No, people are not setting food processing plants on fire

One of the latest claims seen across social media relates to fires at food processing plants across the country.

CHARLOTTE, NC — Recent fires at food processing plants across the US have several people speculating online if something else is behind them.

This tweet notes an “odd coincidence” that “18 US food processing facilities burned down in the last six months.”

Are people setting food processing plants on fire intentionally in order to create a food shortage?

No, people are not setting food processing plants on fire intentionally in order to create a food shortage.

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In a statement, Little told us “We are not aware of any concerted effort to set food processing facilities on fire.”

In an email, Super told us “I can only speak for chicken, but like any manufacturing plant/industry, there are generally a few fires that occur each year across the country. Most of them are contained rather quickly.”

Gazdziak agrees, saying “We’ve not seen anything that points to it being suspicious in any way. A lot of them seem to be mechanical failures, or just you know, very unfortunate, tragic things that happened. But nothing that was deliberate.”

Let’s break down the numbers on what we learned from fire officials:

  • 11 of the fires were either ruled accidental, or no foul play was suspected
  • Six are still under investigation
  • One was at a vacant building that once housed a meat plant, but no longer does

Another note: while the tweet mentions 18 fires in six months in the US, only 12 of them actually happened in that time frame, and one happened in Canada.

According to a 2019 report from the USDA, the US has about 36,000 food and beverage processing establishments in operation.

Gazdiak says fires at just 18 plants would not cause disruption to the food supply.

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“So these individual fires, I mean, they might be disruptions for regular customers of those facilities. But the public as a whole shouldn’t have seen any major differences,” he said.

Super said “There are about 200 federally inspected chicken slaughtering plants in the US and thousands more that further process chicken. And that’s just chicken. I would not categorize this as an ‘alarming trend.’”

The USDA says there are currently no food shortages or widespread disruptions of the food supply in the country.

Here’s what we know about the fires:

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CHECK is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text lus at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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