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Food Safety and Processing Perspective

Terrence O’Keefe, WATT’s content director, provides his perspective on everything from animal agriculture trends that impact our food chain to food-safety related issues affecting chicken and egg production. O’Keefe has covered the poultry industry as an editor for more than a decade and also brings his experience in plant management and poultry production to comment on today’s issues.
Egg Production

Why is the tech media so gullible about egg replacers?

November 25, 2013

Hampton Creek Foods and the famous tech billionaires who back the San Francisco-based would-be food company have done a remarkable job getting the mainstream media to listen to them. The latest example is an article in the Wall Street Journal. All this publicity is nice for Hampton Creek’s egg-less products, such as Beyond Eggs, Eat the Dough and Just Mayo, but you really need to look at who is writing the articles.

The Wall Street Journal article is written by Farhad Manjoo, a technology reporter. This is common for the news items appearing about Hampton Creek Foods products; it isn’t the reporters on the food beat writing them. Just as I am not looking for reviews of the latest "smart" gadget in the food section of the paper, I am also not looking for culinary advice on the tech page.

There are some parts of the Wall Street Journal article that I found quite amusing:

"To create its eggless products, the company's battalion of biochemists, food scientists, and software engineers are modeling their efforts on processes first used in drug companies and the tech industry. If their plan works—and my taste buds suggest it might—Hampton Creek may show how the software and biotech industries' innovation techniques might alter sectors far beyond."

This paragraph left me thinking about the old line "if you put an infinite number of monkeys in front of typewriters, then one of them would eventually write War and Peace." I was also reminded of all those other sophisticated computer models that were going to be so accurate making predictions that we scarcely need to wait to see what the real outcome will be, because we would already know. Like those climate models that predicted that the earth should have melted already.

I don’t doubt that it is possible to come out with acceptable replacements for eggs in some prepared foods. However, I don’t think that anyone will come up for a replacement for eggs that has all of the functional properties of eggs or all of the nutritive values. I wish the people at Hampton Creek Foods luck with their endeavors; competition is a good thing, but it is going to take a lot of money to do what they are trying to do.

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