The trendy “farm to door” meat purveyor Belcampo has admitted to misrepresenting the origin of meats sold at a store in Santa Monica, after an employee posted an Instagram video that charged the company’s products were not all they claimed to be.
The San Francisco Bay Area-born company is well known for its high-end butcher shops, where organic beef and other meats can sell for over $30 a pound. It’s website promises that its meat comes from vetted partner farms – “meat you can trust start to finish” – and says it tracks its animals “from birth to butchery to your plate”.
But the company found itself in hot water earlier this week after a former employee of the Santa Monica Belcampo store, who identified himself only as Evan, posted what he claimed were photos of a plastic-wrapped roast from an Australian meat company, boxes of supermarket brand chicken and a freezer-style turkey, taken in what appeared to be the backroom of a company store.
“This company claims to be selling meat from their farm. It’s not true,” he said. “The filet you’re buying for $47.99 is from Tasmania. Don’t let these people take your money.”
“I apologize to all the customers that I lied to for the past 2 and a half years in order to keep my job,” he said.
The video was widely shared on social media as customers aired their beef with the company.
“Your meat costs SO much money because it’s supposed to be ORGANIC grass fed local and sustainably sourced etc,” the comedian Jenny Yang wrote on Twitter.
“Shame on Belcampo Meat Co,” said another poster on Facebook. “If you buy their garbage. Stop lighting your money on fire.”
In a statement to the Guardian, the company co-founder Anya Fernald described the issue as an “isolated incident at the Santa Monica Butcher Shop”.
Fernald said that individual Belcampo butcher shops have “a small degree of autonomy when it comes to sourcing products for their local customer base or when there are supply shortages on certain items.
“The preliminary results of our investigation show that unfortunately protocols both for sourcing and communicating product origin to customers were not being followed in our Santa Monica location. These errors made up a small percentage of total product,” she added.
The company has become a cult favorite of meat-lovers around the US, selling products from its own farms and “a carefully curated network of certified farmers”. It also operates a subscription meat delivery service, as well as stores and restaurants around California.
The company’s statement said that the employee who posted the video had recently been terminated and the practices in the Santa Monica store had been corrected.
“We are implementing careful retraining and education around our protocols and accountability for our employees and leadership to ensure this does not happen again along with additional oversight,” it said.
But the outrage on social media has continued.
“Now here we have a Belcampo employee saying the meat company is lying about its sourcing,” wrote Katherine Speirs, a food editor, on Twitter. “Given that the sourcing is Belcampo’s entire thing, that would be a scandal.”