A recent string of fires at food production facilities has stirred up speculation and caused concerns about already sky-high food prices and possible food shortages. The Western Standard reported on eighteen separate fires at food processing facilities across the U.S. and Canada in recent months.
“Any additional disruption to the food industry and the food processing industry will create a ripple effect,” David Clement told the Western Standard on April 23. Clement is the North American affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center (CCC).
“Anything that affects product availability will put upward pressure on food inflation,” he added. “This is why Canada and the U.S. are seeing skyrocketing prices.”
The Western Standard reported fires at food manufacturing facilities in California, Idaho, Georgia, Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine, Arkansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Louisiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Canada, all within the past eight months.
One Twitter user shared a visual compilation of headlines about the recent fires. Though no “verified” Twitter accounts commented on or shared the tweet, several social media users found fodder for promoting theories.
“I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and say the government is behind all of this,” one user tweeted.
I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and say the government is behind all of this.
— Mysti Wilkins (@mysti_wilkins) April 21, 2022
“They are using food to create submissions,” replied another, implying the fires are part of a government plan to control the public. “Everyone needs to prepare.”
They are using food to create submissions. Everyone needs to prepare.
— Ffyrgirl (@ffyrgirl) April 23, 2022
A Facebook post by Federalist Rising referenced the string of fires with the added comment: “None of the other scams worked, so now they’ll attempt to starve us.”
While the string of fires in the U.S. and Canada has many people speculating about the fires and whether they were intentionally set to create food shortages, fact-checking websites were quick to make counterarguments.
“We looked at each of the 18 fires mentioned in the Facebook post and found no evidence that any of them were intentionally set,” PolitiFact wrote. “Eleven were either ruled accidental, or no foul play was suspected. One was at a vacant building that once housed a meat plant. In six others, the fires are either still under investigation or investigators have not publicly announced any cause found — intentional or otherwise.”
Snopes said the intentional food shortage claims are “misleading.”
“The claim of a new ‘trend’ of fires at food processing facilities does not hold up upon scrutiny,” Snopes wrote. “Almost all of the fires on meme lists involved explainable causes, and we found no examples of suspected arson. One of the included examples involved an abandoned building, while another involved a butcher shop (not a large food processing facility). Most importantly, this ‘trend’ is not new. When we searched for news stories about fires at food processing plants in 2021, 2020, and 2019, we found that such fires are relatively commonplace and that there has not been any conspiracy-worthy upticks.”
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson disagrees with the fact-checkers.
“Obviously, when something happens every so often, you obviously hope that there is no significant damage and certainly that no one gets hurt, but you kind of write it off: ‘It’s not that big of a deal’; ‘Accidents happen,'” Carlson said. “But when you’ve got well over a dozen food processing plants and warehouses getting destroyed or seriously damaged over just the last few weeks, at a time when the food supply is already vulnerable, it’s obviously going to be suspicious, and it could lead to serious food shortages.”