Maryland bill would limit what foods may be labeled ‘meat’


By Hugh Garbrick of Capital News Service | Associated Press

via The Washington Post | Feb. 7, 2020 


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Foods made of animal tissues cultured from cells outside of the original animal, or made from plants or insects could not be labeled “meat” in Maryland under a Republican-backed bill in the Maryland General Assembly.


Senate bill 188 is sponsored by Sen. Jason Gallion, R-Harford and Cecil, who called it “truth in advertising.” Eleven other GOP senators are co-sponsoring the legislation.


“Laboratory-grown meat will become more prevalent in the future, and this bill will proactively prevent these ‘franken-meat’ alternatives from being labeled as meat,” Gallion said at Thursday’s bill hearing.


“We just think it’s unnecessary. Not only are our members in full compliance with all federal regulations on the subject, but we’ve even gone beyond that with our own guidelines,” Dan Colgrove with the Plant Based Foods Association told lawmakers Thursday.


“These products have to be very clearly marked as veggie, vegetarian or plant-based. That’s sort of the point, to offer alternatives to meat products.” Colgrove’s association represents more than 170 companies including Impossible Foods and The Tofurky Co., which make plant-based meat substitutes.


Cell cultured meat can not be purchased from stores yet, according to an email from Cathy Cochran, spokesperson for the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation, an industry coalition representing five companies working on bringing cell-grown meat to the market.


In March, the U.S.Food and Drug Administration and Food Safety Inspection Service announced they would oversee the production of food made from cells of livestock and poultry to ensure they are “safely and accurately labeled.”


The meat-labeling bill, if passed, would cost the state an estimated $66,500 in the program’s first year to hire one full-time public health worker who would develop regulations, do outreach and look into who would be affected, according to a state legislative analysis.


The analysis estimated the costs would decrease after the first year.


The Maryland Farm Bureau, a nonprofit that advocates for Maryland farmers and rural families, supports the bill.


Parker Welch with the Maryland Farm Bureau told Capital News Service on Tuesday that the bill would provide customers more transparency.


Welch said the bill would “provide a kind of consumer confidence in the product they’re buying, so when they pick up a package (of meat) at the grocery there’s no confusion in what they’re buying.”


Impossible Foods labels their products “plant-based meat,” and last year they worked with Burger King to introduce the Impossible Whopper, a burger that contains no beef, according to an Impossible Foods press release.


In an emailed statement, Impossible Foods told Capital News Service...