LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. farmers are talking with manufacturers about cutting down on supplies of unwanted livestock and boosting the food supply with beef and pork that has not spent its shelf life, after Consumer Reports warned of concerns about nutritional and environmental issues.
New products with a meat “second life” have been popping up in the U.S. fast-food industry over the past year, as retailers vie to replace products that have spoiled or contaminated because of pathogens and weather, but a fear from animal welfare and food safety experts pushed the supermarket and meat industries into action.
Some products, called “rip-roasted”, are cleaned or pasteurized before use, reducing the meat to lean, rendered-meat-protein powders to feed the livestock rather than raw products on store shelves.
Others, called “warm-roasted”, are left uncovered and exposed to the sun to roast at around 62 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), reducing their brining and salt content to preserve nutritional content.
“Hot-roasting your food is one thing, but getting healthy products that are picked off the shelf and put into the family’s dining room will be another,” Ron Robinson, president of Denver-based Delta Dairies, told Reuters.
Robinson, whose company is the exclusive U.S. producer of RRP, said he was currently in talks with U.S. and Mexican companies about further expansion of production.
The Canadian pork industry has also pushed for rip-roasting to become standard practice for the beef and pork industry.
Food safety standards have moved to the top of the agenda in the global meat industry since 2015, when Britain became the first country to introduce legislation to protect consumers from listeria found in undercooked or over-cooled food, while in 2016, the United States and Canada launched a campaign against the growing scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The issue of listeria is particularly complicated as it can be transmitted to humans from bacteria in other animals.
“Any kind of bacteria they pass it on to, it can get into pork,” Carl Dahlberg, food safety program manager for Canadian Pork, told Reuters.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) recommended pork rip-roasting to the industry in 2013, but the suggestion does not usually go far.
Robson Lippert, a board member of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), said that with science, the industry has pushed the risks of losing food quickly down to a tolerable level, but consumer attitudes remain more basic.
“All that we’ve done is raise consciousness and get people talking about the old ways of cooking their food,” he said.