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Yesterday we referenced a story about how Beyond Meat "has lost some of its sizzle," as management and investors try to figure out where there are inherent limitations in the category.

Now comes this piece from Bloomberg:

"Photos and internal documents from a Beyond Meat Inc. plant in Pennsylvania show apparent mold, Listeria and other food-safety issues, compounding problems at a factory the company had expected to play a major role in its future.

"Products from the plant tested positive for Listeria, a harmful bacteria, on at least 11 occasions during the second half of last year and the first half of 2022, according to an internal document provided by a former employee concerned about conditions at the plant. The occurrence of the bacteria at the facility was confirmed by two former employees, who asked not to be named discussing private information about the company. While Listeria is frequently present at food plants, it’s more unusual for it to be found in the products themselves. 

"Photos taken by a former employee from inside the plant in January and April show what appear to be spills, unsafe use of equipment, and mold on walls and ingredient containers, while spreadsheets, photos and internally prepared reports reveal that foreign materials such as string, metal, wood and plastic have been found in food from the plant at least as recently as last December."

A Beyond Meat spokesman said that the plant passed inspections by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and that the company’s food-safety protocols “go above and beyond industry and regulatory standards."

However, Bloomberg writes, "The company didn’t comment on its internal documents or specific details about the conditions in its plant, such as the apparent presence of mold and references to safety violations."

“Mold growth takes a while — that underscores a lack of cleanliness,” food safety attorney Bill Marler told Bloomberg after viewing some of the photos.  "If neat and tidy is 1 and filthy is 10, I’d put this at an 8.”

KC's View:

This is the kind of crap that can severely hurt a company.  If the problems are systemic, and the company is guilty of any kind of deception, then it ought to bring the company down.

I don't know about you, but one line from the story - "While Listeria is frequently present at food plants, it’s more unusual for it to be found in the products themselves." - was enough to bring me up short.