MPI probes Hell’s fake meat
The Ministry for Primary Industries is investigating Hell Pizza’s fake meat ‘‘burger’’ pizza.
Hell left a bad taste in many mouths after revealing it had secretly used plant-based Beyond Meat burger patties on one of its pizzas last month.
MPI director of compliance Gary Orr said ministry staff met with the company yesterday to discuss complaints received about the product.
Investigations into potential breaches of the Food Act were ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further, Orr said.
Hell Pizza general manager Ben Cumming was approached for comment on Monday after MPI announced it would meet with the company.
He did not respond to questions except to say he had sent his proposed response to the ministry’s public relations staff for approval and comment and was awaiting their reply.
However, Orr said MPI had not required Hell to run responses to media queries past them and how the company chose to respond was ‘‘entirely up to them’’.
Hell’s decision not to alert customers to its use of the plantbased product was met with mixed reactions. Some people were outraged at being duped while many were concerned about the potential implications of ingesting Beyond Meat ingredients when they thought they were eating beef.
However, an unscientific Stuff poll found 41 per cent were not worried about being sold a product that was not what it said on the menu. Of the almost 47,000 people who voted, 17 per cent said it was up to customers to check what was in their food. Another 24 per cent were not fussed whether Hell disclosed using Beyond Meat.
Consumer behaviour expert Professor Malcolm Wright said the growing trend towards sustainably-produced foods may have contributed to that indifference.
Wright, from Massey University’s School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, said reactions to the company’s stunt would have been influenced by two factors.
‘‘The first is the idea that the product has been adulterated or standards have dropped and you would expect people to react negatively to that,’’ he said.
‘‘But the other dimension is around sustainability, the environment and issues with eating meat. What Hell have done in this case could be seen as innovative and positive and proenvironmental.’’
Beyond Meat uses ingredients that mimic the composition of real meat, like pea protein, coconut oil and potato starch, to create products that look and cook like beef.