Farm groups urge USDA to limit products that can be called 'meat'

(NTV News)

Nebraska Farm Bureau and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association are urging the United States Department of Agriculture to limit the definition of “meat” when referring to all lab-grown and plant-based meat alternatives, according to press releases from the groups.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau's request to limit the definition of “beef” and “meat” to only products from live animals born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, comes from a strong movement to develop and commercialize alternative protein products, particularly “clean meat,” also called lab-grown or cultured meat, and plant-based proteins.

“The production and processing of livestock is of vital importance to our members and our states economy. Nebraska currently ranks first in commercial red meat production (over 8.1 billion lbs/year), commercial cattle slaughter (over 7.4 million head), and all cattle on feed (over 2.7 million head). All of this translates into tens of billions of dollars of economic activity as well as thousands of jobs,” Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president said in a letter to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

“It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” said Kevin Kester, President of NCBA. “As long as we have a level playing field, our product will continue to be a leading protein choice for families in the United States and around the world.”

“Consumers depend upon the USDA FSIS to ensure that the products they purchase at the grocery store match their label descriptions,” Nelson said. In a letter, the Nebraska Farm Bureau specifically requested FSIS to support the following:

  • Prohibit products derived from alternative sources, e.g. synthetic products from plants, insects, non-animal components, and lab-grown animal cells, from being labeled as “beef” or “meat”;
  • limit the definition of “meat” to the tissue or flesh of animals that have been harvested in the traditional manner;
  • limit the definition of “beef” to products from cattle born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner; and
  • adding the definitions, as identified above, to FSIS’s Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book.

The requests from NCBA are as follows:

  • Requests that USDA work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “take appropriate, immediate enforcement action against improperly-labeled imitation products.”
  • Urges USDA to “assert jurisdiction over foods consisting of, isolated from or produced from cell culture or tissue culture derived from livestock and poultry animals or their parts.”
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