Belcampo accused of mislabeling meat and misleading customers

Belcampo built their entire brand on sustainable, ethical meat. But last month, it was accused of mislabeling its meat. Photo by Neon Tommy (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Belcampo is the beloved Oakland-based meat purveyor with restaurants and shops in downtown LA, Santa Monica and West Hollywood. They’ve built their entire brand on sustainable, ethical meat. But last month, a now-former employee’s Instagram post accused the company of mislabeling its meat. Belcampo says it only happened a few times at one butcher shop in Santa Monica. But a big investigation by Eater found the problems are more widespread.

“Belcampo has built its brand on sustainability, saying that … most of its meats come from a 30,000 acre farm in the base of Mount Shasta in Northern California, and really just isn't true and hasn't been true for quite some time,” says Eater LA senior editor Farley Elliott.

Faced with the pandemic and financial strains, Elliott says Belcampo purchased meats that were not organic, sustainable, or locally made, and instead bought regular meat and slapped its own label on it. He points out that the company’s actions are the latest in a trend of businesses that claim to be ethically responsible.

“People want to buy this stuff, in part because they believe that they're doing more to be better [for] the environment. And when that's not true, or it's revealed to not be true, you ultimately have a breakdown of the entire ecosystem of sustainability that threatens the movement overall.”