retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Center for Consumer Freedom - which is a lobbying organization that represents, among other things, the meat industry - is running full-page ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times suggesting that fake meats ought to subject to mandated labeling under California's Prop 65, which requires labels on products with large enough amounts of carcinogens to cause cancer or reproductive issues.

The Center says it decided to run the ad "after independent testing found cooked plant-based meat products like Beyond Sausages and Impossible Burgers contain large enough amounts of the carcinogen acrylamide to warrant Prop 65 labeling in California … The discovery of acrylamide in cooked plant-based protein products adds another blemish to the perceived health halo around these products. According to nutritionists, synthetic meats are ultra-processed and not healthier than real meat."

Forbes, on the other hand, makes the point that "just as with coffee and potato chips … the mere presence of acrylamide doesn’t mean these foods actually cause cancer. There just isn’t enough evidence to link acrylamide in food, even in relatively high amounts, with an increased cancer risk. There is more evidence suggesting an increased risk of cancer associated with red meat, even more for processed meats like bacon, not to mention alcohol, which is a known carcinogen.

"But it’s important to keep in mind that just because there are studies linking a food to an elevated cancer risk doesn’t mean you will get cancer if you eat them. With enough evidence, health experts may recommend that you limit your intake of these foods, however, or eat more foods that are associated with health benefits, like fruits and vegetables."

KC's View:

A little cursory research suggests that the Center for Consumer Freedom would be better named the Center for Specific Corporate Products.  (One source suggested that it has in the past criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.)

That said, self-interested entities have the ability to make a lot of noise, obscure facts, and demagogue issues.  Retailers need to know that they may have some questions to answer.