Are Meat Substitutes Meat? Several States Say No.
North Dakota is the latest state to restrict the use of the term in food labeling to protect its livestock industry.
Emily Moon, Pacific Standard
Apr 8, 2019
In recent years, scientists and start-ups have developed plant-based substitutes that taste, feel, and even act like meat. But lawmakers in an increasing number of states want these companies to leave the word "meat" out of it. "Meat is meat," Mike Deering, executive vice president of the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, told New Food Economy last year. Citing protections for the beef industry and consumers, a wave of new laws require that food products claiming to be "meat" come from an animal carcass.
Last month, North Dakota became the latest state to restrict the use of the term in food labeling, joining Missouri, Montana, and South Dakota. North Dakota's bill imposes a penalty for companies that misrepresent their products as "meat," which is defined as "the edible flesh of an animal born and harvested for the purpose of human consumption," according to the Bismarck Tribune.
The uproar over labeling has become more pressing as plant-based meats like the Impossible burger find their markets. Cultured meat, known as cell-based meat and "clean meat," has also threatened the beef industry, prompting the United States Cattlemen's Association to ask federal regulators last year to reserve the terms "beef" and "meat" for products derived only from slaughtered animals, and not their cell lines.
It's still unclear whether regulators will comply: In March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration announced their first formal joint agreement to oversee the regulation of cell-based livestock and poultry, with additional requirements on labeling still to come. As Vox explains, these nationwide standards would override any individual state prohibitions. But that hasn't stopped legislators from trying.
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