A bill which would ban meat alternative products from being labeled ‘meat’ is being considered by the Missouri Legislature.
Under the proposal, producers of clean meat (cultured in a lab) and plant-based meat would be prohibited from labeling their products as such.
Only traditional meat procured from the production of livestock or poultry could bear the name.
Links to industry
According to reports the bill’s sponsors are connected with the meat industry. This has led to speculation that the bill (House Bill 2607) – which has passed two committees of the Missouri House of Representatives but currently has no further action scheduled – is about industry squashing the competition, rather than clarity for consumers.
Speaking to The Intercept, Rep. Deb Lavender said: “As other substitutes come forward in the marketplace, I think our agricultural community is getting concerned about the loss of share, share of the market that they may have.
“People are not going to mistake a veggie burger for a hamburger. And so, to think that we need to have anybody selling foods in Missouri have a different label is just a little bit unreasonable.”
The proposed bill follows the US Cattlemen’s Association [USCA] filing a petition with the US Department of Agriculture asking it to narrow the definition of ‘meat’ to flesh from traditionally-reared livestock earlier this year.
According to the USCA, it wants these changes to be made ‘to eliminate the likelihood of confusion and to better inform consumers’.
But the Association has also faced accusations of trying to quash competition. The Good Food Institute [GFI] which works to facilitate a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply, says: “The Cattlemen’s Association should support a fair marketplace and take cues from others in the meat industry, including Tyson, Cargill, Maple Leaf Foods, and PHW Group, that are seeing the future and adapting accordingly. Better to be a part of the transformation than be left behind.”