Beyond Meat, the maker of the Beyond Burger
the plant-based meat substitute that looks and tastes like beef that’s sold at Whole Foods
and restaurant chains like TGI Friday’s and Carl’s Jr., doesn’t contain any peanuts.
But people with food allergies should proceed with care, according to Utah-based Nadia Pflaum, an investigative producer with KUTV 2News in Salt Lake City. Pflaum said she had to take Benadryl after eating a Beyond Burger she purchased at Carl’s Jr. in Salt Lake City.
‘We added cautionary language to both our packaging and website.’
The ingredient, pea-protein isolate, and some restaurants fail to give allergy warnings, she said. Pflaum said she’s allergic to peanuts, but has never had an issue with peas and didn’t see any warning signs at the restaurant, despite advertisements for the burger.
“Beyond Meat was advertised all over: Outside on the windows, inside on the walls, on place mats, placards and even on the cashiers’ shirts. But nowhere did we see any print, fine or otherwise, that offered any allergy warnings,” KUTV 2News reported.
Beyond Meat and Carl’s Jr. did not immediately return requests for comment, but Beyond Meat told KUTV 2News that its products are labeled in compliance with legal requirements, and that the warning about the presence of peas in its meatless burgers is not required by law.
“We added cautionary language to both our packaging and website,” a spokesperson told the media outlet. “This language appears immediately below the ingredient list, where consumers would typically look to find allergen information on a food package — it is where the FDA-required ‘CONTAINS’ statement for major food allergens would normally appear.”
Pflaum says she experienced wheezing and itching, the same reaction she gets if she accidentally eats a peanut. Beyond Meat labels have a star next to the ingredient “Pea protein isolate” with fine print that reads: “People with severe allergies to legumes like peanuts should be cautious when introducing pea protein into their diet because of the possibility of a pea allergy.”
Meat-substitutes with pea-protein isolate are highly concentrated and potent.
“Only about 5% of people with peanut allergies have a problem with other beans. When they do, those beans can include peas, and having a product that has pea protein might increase their chances of having a problem,” Dr. Scott Sicherer, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai, told MarketWatch.
Meat-substitute products that contain pea-protein isolate are highly concentrated and potent, and, therefore, may trigger allergic reactions even in people who have never had problems eating peas. “That could be why the intolerances are happening,” Sharon Zarabi, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says.
The National Restaurant Association urges consumers to tell food-service employees about their allergies. “Any individual that has a food allergy needs to let their server know to see if the establishment can accommodate their needs,” William Weichelt, director of food safety and industry relations for the National Restaurant Association, told MarketWatch in an email.
“If a food service establishment wants to serve those with food allergies, it needs to be prepared to work with customers to help make them feel comfortable with their selection and that includes knowing what allergens are in the food they prepare,” he added.
Beyond Meat, hot off a soaring IPO, raised at least $240 million at a valuation just shy of $1.5 billion, suggesting that the alternative meat market could have a long-term future. The plant-based or lab-grown meat market could surge to $140 billion over the next decade as new companies make up a 10% share of the $1.4 trillion meat market, Barclays said.