A battle is brewing on whether a product can be labeled as “meat” if it is plant-based or grown in a laboratory.
Can Tofurkey says it is meat on the label?
The state of Missouri says “no” and the cattle industry is on their side.
Fake meat is what the cattle industry calls products that imitate meat, even if they originated as animal cells. Colin Woodall, chief lobbyist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), says the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the first step followed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) making the final ruling.
“FDA will look at the overall safety of the product and once that product is commercialized, the USDA will do the daily inspection and ultimately determine what the product is called via the label,” Woodall explained. “We’re happy with that and we want to make sure the MOU remains solid, even in future administrations. If we can do that, we think we have won most of the battle when it comes to our fight with cell-based meat.”
NCBA argues that cell-cultured meat is drawing resources to produce it and needs to be vetted carefully before it gets any approval to be marketed.
Meanwhile, on the veggie burger front, the State of Missouri has a law that says companies can’t label plant-based burgers as meat.
A court case has been brought by the Tofurky Company of Oregon, which makes vegetarian food products, as well as the Good Food Institute, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit group that advocates for meat alternatives. The suit claims the Missouri law infringes on First Amendment rights of free speech to use product labels like “veggie burgers” and “vegetarian ham roast.”
Precedent may come from the dairy industry where alternatives like soybeans and almonds, have succeeded in labeling their products as milk.