“Where’s the beef” is slowly taking on a whole new meaning.
Wendy’s, the legendary fast-food restaurant, has begun to see shortages of fresh beef in some of its locations, which could be another sign that the U.S. is inching closer and closer to a protein shortage in the country.
The Huffington Post reported that analysts say one in five Wendy’s are out of beef for its fresh hamburgers. A Wendy’s spokeswoman told CNBC in a statement that the chain has been affected by the production challenges during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We continue to supply hamburgers to all of our restaurants, with deliveries two or three times a week, which is consistent with normal delivery schedules,” the spokeswoman said. “However, some of our menu items may be temporarily limited at some restaurants in this current environment.”
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The Huffington Post said analysts at Stephens Inc. reported that about 18 percent of the restaurant’s stores have listed some beef items as out of stock. That amounts to 1,043 restaurants.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” Tuesday that it is not surprising to hear that fast-food establishments are running short on meat. He said thousands of slaughter-ready hogs are being put down across the country due to processing issues in the U.S.
Massie told Todd Starnes, the host, that he has been warning about obvious risks with processing plants that are now largely controlled by four companies, including one based in Brazil and the other in China, which process 80 percent of the country’s meat. He has spoken out against government guidelines in the industry that hurt mom-and-pop processing facilities, which has contributed to the issue.
Starnes pointed out that there is a growing concern in the U.S. of an impending protein shortage. He said supermarkets are beginning to limit the number of meat products that can be purchased at a time.
Massie said the coronavirus outbreak may shine a new light on other shortfalls in the meat processing industry, like the government’s decision years ago to remove the ‘country of origin’ label from beef and pork packaging.
“Now, they’ve left them on all of your vegetables, and your shoes, and your cars, and your tools and your phones and your fish, but they took the ‘country of origin’ label off of your beef and pork,” Massie said. He said many of these processing plants import beef from Mexico, slaughter the cows in the U.S. and slap a USDA sticker on the packaging.
“And then people think that they’re eating U.S.A. meat,” he said.