Smithfield Foods is being sued by an advocacy group, claiming it has fueled fears of a meat shortage.


Credit…Benjamin Rasmussen for the New York Times

Smithfield Foods was one of the first companies to warn the country was at risk of running out of meat as coronavirus infections spread to processing plants in April 2020 and health officials put pressure on the industry to stop part of the production to protect workers.

Now, a lawsuit filed last week by Food and Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group, accuses the pork-producing giant of falsely stoking consumer fears and misleading the public.

The lawsuit says the nation has never been in danger of running out of meat. He claims that cold stores were plentiful, while at the same time, pork exports to China, in particular, were increasing. The lawsuit was filed in Washington Superior Court, where a law allows a nonprofit group to sue on behalf of consumers without having to prove that they have suffered direct harm.

“This fear campaign creates a revenue-generating feedback loop,” Food and Water Watch said in its lawsuit. “This stokes and exploits consumer panic – by increasing demand and sales – and, in turn, provides the company with a false justification for keeping its slaughterhouses at full capacity, subjecting its workers to conditions of health and safety. dangerous workplace safety that has caused thousands of workers in Smithfield. contracting the virus.

Smithfield defended his security efforts while criticizing the consumer advocacy group. “The advocacy organizations making these claims have the stated goal of dismantling the efforts of our hard-working employees, who take great pride in producing food safely,” said Keira Lombardo, executive director of Smithfield, in a statement. communicated.

The meat packaging industry was a flashpoint during the pandemic as thousands of workers fell ill, many fatally. Smithfield and other companies have launched an aggressive advertising campaign to highlight their worker safety efforts and highlight the industry’s important role in feeding the nation.

Despite these claims, Food and Water Watch, which is represented in its lawsuit by Public Justice, an advocacy group, points out that Smithfield has been cited by regulators for failing to adequately protect workers at its California factories. and South Dakota.

In her statement, Ms Lombardo said: “Our health and safety measures, guided by medical expertise and occupational safety, have been comprehensive.”

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Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

the Federal Trade Commission warns travelers of schemes that trick them into booking bogus car rental bookings through bogus customer service numbers and bogus websites, Ann Carrns reports for The New York Times.

Rental cars have become scarce and prices have gone up. This can make customers vulnerable to bogus offers that appear to deliver the car not only they want, but at a seemingly more reasonable price, said Emily Wu, a lawyer in the Consumer and Business Education division of the Federal Trade Commission.

The streak can begin when a buyer searches online for a broad term such as “cheap rental cars,” said Amy Nofziger, director of victim support for the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

  • They call the number that appears in the search, thinking it belongs to a legitimate rental company.

  • The bogus rental company will usually insist that the caller book by paying with a gift card or prepaid debit card, saying there is a special promotion or discount associated with the card.

  • Once the caller buys a card and passes their PIN to the bogus agency, the criminal can quickly convert the card to cash, and the consumer is left with no money or a car.

“A website that requires payment or requests the purchase of a gift card, and provides the card number and PIN, should set off an alarm,” said Lisa Martini, spokesperson for Enterprise Holdings, which includes the Enterprise, Alamo and National brands.

Shell executives say they want to put their chips on technologies and businesses that can evolve into key cogs in the emerging cleaner energy system, like batteries.
Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, talks about the need to reduce emissions since 2017. In the opinion of some, however, Shell has dragged its feet.

The company’s investments in clean energy since 2016 have totaled $ 3.2 billion, Stanley Reed reports for The New York Times, as it has spent around $ 84 billion on exploration and development. oil and gas development, according to estimates from Bernstein, a research firm.

“You can’t pretend you’re in transition when you invest” such a small percentage of capital in new businesses, said Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, a Dutch activist investor group.

All major oil companies, especially in Europe, share a similar dilemma. Their leaders see that demand for petroleum products is likely to wane over time and that their industry faces growing disapproval, especially in Europe, because of its role in climate change. Shell is responsible for around 3% of global emissions, mainly from gasoline and other products burned by its customers.

Yet Shell and other companies still derive almost all of their profits from fossil fuels, and they are understandably reluctant to divest most of their vast oil, gas and petrochemical assets, especially when oil consumption is expected to continue for years.

Shell appears to be playing a longer and more cautious game than some competitors, such as BP, which invest money in renewable energy projects. Shell executives appear to be skeptical of the profit potential of building and operating renewable power generation assets, such as wind farms.

Shell executives say they want to put their chips on the technologies and companies that could become key cogs in the cleaner energy system that is emerging. They not only want to produce clean energy, but also make money by supplying it to companies like Amazon and retail customers through large, bespoke contracts, or electric vehicle plug-in points or utilities that Shell owns. The number of investments will increase, they say, to $ 3 billion per year out of a total of about $ 20 billion in annual capital spending.

“We are thinking about the future; where is the future going? said Elisabeth Brinton, Shell Executive Vice President for Renewable Energy and Energy Solutions.


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