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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said meat and poultry establishments must follow regulations and undergo inspections to ensure their products don’t contain any hazards, such as metal pieces.
The texture or moisture of a packaged meat or poultry product — and even the angle at which it's held — may cause a magnet to stick to the packaging, but that doesn’t mean the meat is magnetic or contains metal, the USDA said.
Social media users are telling consumers to think twice about buying meats from grocery store coolers, suggesting the meats contain dangerous substances.
An Aug. 6 Facebook video shows a person putting a small magnet on top of packaged beef and claiming the magnet is sticking to the meat because it contains metal.
The video also suggests this supposed magnetic beef is linked to lab-grown, or cultivated from cells, meat. The captions reads, "Lab grown meat approved for sale in America."
The person in the video also referred to lab-grown meat.
"Now that they’ve given the OK to sell lab-grown meat in the United States, I figured it would be time to return to Walmart and see if they’re still selling magnetic meat with this tiny, very strong rare-earth magnet. And right away, I found that it’s still magnetic," the person says.
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Screengrab from Facebook
Keep those magnets on the refrigerator — there’s no evidence grocery store meat is magnetic.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service works to ensure that meat, poultry and eggs are safe to eat and properly labeled.
Meat and poultry establishments must have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system "to prevent, eliminate or reduce to a safe level any biological, chemical or physical hazard that is reasonably likely to occur in the product," an agency spokesperson told PolitiFact in a written statement.
Metal pieces are a physical hazard. Many establishments install metal detectors or X-ray devices to screen their products for unexpected metal pieces. Food Safety and Inspection Service employees also conduct regular inspections to ensure products are safe for consumption.
The magnet in the video may be sticking to the packaged meat because of the meat’s texture or moisture or the angle at which the package is held. But that doesn’t mean it contains metal, a statement from the Food Safety and Inspection Service said.
Meat and poultry with the USDA inspection marker have been assessed for safety, wholesomeness and proper labeling, the statement said.
The Facebook post also mentions lab-grown meat, but currently cell-cultured meat is not sold in U.S. stores.
Cell-cultured meat is typically made by growing animal cells — which come from the tissues of living animals or a "bank" of stored cells — in steel tanks. Cultivated meat is harvested and prepared using conventional food processing and packaging methods, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The two companies also received FDA safety clearance to sell chicken directly grown from animal cells. Cell-cultivated beef or seafood has not been approved for sale.
FDA spokesperson Veronika Pfaeffle said that based on the manufacturing methods for these foods "there is no scientific reason or credible basis to expect that food products produced with animal cells would be magnetic."
Lab-grown meat must adhere to the same safety requirements as all other foods, Pfaeffle said.
We rate the claim that a video shows magnetic meat for sale in U.S. grocery stores False.
Email exchange with Veronika Pfaeffle, U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesperson, Oct. 3, 2023
Email exchange with a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service spokesperson, Oct. 4, 2023
PolitiFact, "Major U.S. fast-food chains are not selling lab-grown meat," Aug. 4, 2023
AFP Fact Check, "Misleading claims about magnetism spread to meat, poultry," June 22, 2021
AFP Fact Check, "False claims about magnetism spread to lab-grown meat," July 28, 2023
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "FDA Completes First Pre-Market Consultation for Human Food Made Using Animal Cell Culture Technology," Nov. 16, 2022
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service website, accessed Oct. 4, 2023
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, "Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Guidance," accessed Oct. 4, 2023
Upside Foods, Instagram post, June 21, 2023
Good Meat, Instagram post, June 21, 2023
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