Recent Plant-Based Meat Recalls: Impossible Chicken Nuggets, Beyond Burgers and Others

Recent Plant-Based Meat Recalls: Impossible Chicken Nuggets, Beyond Burgers and Others

Impossible Foods’ Chicken Nuggets, Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burgers and other plant-based meat products have been recalled in recent years. Photo courtesy of Impossible Foods.

Last month, Impossible Foods recalled its Chicken Nuggets Made from Plants and Wild Nuggies because of the possibility of small pieces of wood in the products. The plant-based meat recall was initiated on March 16 and is ongoing, according to a blog post on the company’s website, and no injuries have been reported.

“We voluntarily and proactively made the decision to pull some of our plant-based chicken products off store shelves and out of distribution because of an issue we discovered at our co-manufacturer,” Impossible Foods said in a company blog post. “While this is a very atypical situation, this action was the obvious and right decision to make.”

Consumers who may have purchased the products covered by the recall should dispose of them immediately and avoid consuming them. Impossible Foods is offering customers who bought the recalled product a coupon for a future purchase, but is not issuing refunds at this time.

Related: Why Plant-Based Meat Brand Planterra Foods is Shutting Down

Despite calling the situation “atypical,” this is not the first time the plant-based meat giant has issued a recall of its products. In 2019, Impossible Foods issued a voluntary recall after a California restaurant found a piece of plastic in a bulk Impossible Burger product.

Impossible’s rival, Beyond Meat, is also no stranger to plant-based meat recalls. Beyond Meat’s Pennsylvania’s facility had food safety issues in 2021 and 2022, including mold and Listeria contaminations, according to internal documents and photos leaked to Bloomberg. The documents, which were provided by a former employee, showed that Beyond Meat products tested positive for Listeria 11 times between the second half of 2021 and the first half of 2022.

Various foreign materials, including metal, plastics, string and wood, had been found in Beyond Meat products between January and April 2022. Additionally, photos taken by the former employee from inside the plant show spills, unsafe equipment and mold on the walls and ingredients containers. Beyond Meat products at A&W restaurants and Costco locations in Canada also had to be recalled last year due to the presence of small pieces of wood in the products.

In June 2022, meal kit service Daily Harvest issued a voluntary recall of a lentil-based product after receiving reports of gastrointestinal issues linked to its French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. Although it’s not a plant-based meat recall, the product is meant to replicate ground beef, and left approximately 470 people with a mysterious illness or adverse reaction to the product.

Although traditional meat continues to dominate over plant-based options, the market for meat alternatives is expected to reach $15.7 billion by 2027 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.7 percent. This growth is due in part to a belief that plant-based products are healthier and less susceptible to pathogens like E. Coli and Salmonella.

However, faith in the inherent safety of plant-based products is misplaced. In reality, plant-based meat recalls have become more prevalent because the products are ultra-processed and contain numerous food-grade chemicals as ingredients.

Ultimately, the same care needs to be taken during the production and distribution of plant-based meat products when it comes to food safety. Not to mention, plant-based meat products must be fully cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid growth of foodborne bacteria and pathogens.