U.S. Food Companies “Flunking the Planet,” Report Claims

Major U.S. food companies are targeted in a scathing new report by Mighty Earth on meat's impact to water pollution and climate change.

( Farm Journal )

A scathing new report blames major food companies for “massive water pollution, dead zones” and “climate change.”

Mighty Earth, a non-governmental organization (NGO) has issued “Flunking the Planet: Scoring America’s Food Companies on Sustainable Meat,” a survey of 23 major brands representing the largest fast food, grocery and food service companies in the U.S.

“This year’s massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is being driven by major food companies who have no environmental standards for meat,” according to Mighty Earth’s statement about their survey.

That claim, however, seems contradicted by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who announced Tuesday that the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone is only about 40% its average size this year. NOAA said the dead zone, an area with low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life, is the fourth smallest since they started mapping the area in 1985.

“Flunking the Planet” gave a score of “F” to 22 of the 23 companies in the survey for their environmental policies for meat sourcing. Only Walmart scored better, earning a “D” due to “their goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain to improve farming practices for corn, soy and manure management.”

The statement from Mighty Earth also called meat “one of the most environmentally polluting products in the world,” and called the meat industry “responsible for widespread destruction of native ecosystems, and new agriculture expands onto rain forests and prairies around the world.”

Mighty Earth singled out Whole Foods in its statement, reporting “community members gathered outside Whole Foods headquarters in Austin, TX, to raise concerns and deliver 95,000 petition signatures demanding the company hold its meat suppliers accountable for their environmental harm.” Mighty Earth claims Whole Foods requires no environmental safeguards or practices from its meat suppliers, two of which are Tyson and Cargill, which Mighty Earth called “some of the most polluting agribusinesses in the country.”

Mighty Earth Campaign Director, Lucia von Reusner said, “This report shows that there’s dire need for leadership from food companies in holding their meat suppliers to higher standards. Customers want products that respect the environment.”

While the report makes alarming claims about the meat industry and a lack of environmental participation by U.S. food companies, Mighty Earth’s conclusions were based not on scientific, peer-reviewed research, but rather on a survey of 23 companies, with grades on environmental issues assigned by Mighty Earth representatives.

The 23 companies surveyed were Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Restaurant Brands International, Starbucks, Subway, Wendy’s, Yum! Brands, Albertsons Companies, Costco Wholesale, The Kroger Company, Target Corporation, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Wegmans Food, Whole Foods, Aramark, Compass Group, Sodexo, Sysco Corporation, and US Foods.