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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday February 27 2018, @01:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-what's-for-dinner dept.

The U.S. Cattlemen's Association has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop an official definition for terms like "meat" and "beef", as plant-based alternatives to meats continue to grow in popularity and lab-grown/cultured meat may be coming soon:

Companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are combining plant-based ingredients and science, rather than animals, to create fake-meat burgers and other products that taste like the real thing.

Now U.S. Cattlemen's Association is looking to draw a line in the sand. The association launched what could be the first salvo in a long battle against plant-based foods. Earlier this month, the association filed a 15-page petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for an official definition for the term "beef," and more broadly, "meat."

"While at this time alternative protein sources are not a direct threat to the beef industry, we do see improper labeling of these products as misleading," said Lia Biondo, the association's policy and outreach director. "Our goal is to head off the problem before it becomes a larger issue."

[...] While these foods are commonly dubbed "fake meat," there's a little more to the meat-substitute market than that. The Good Food Institute, which advocates a sustainable food supply, breaks it down into two categories: clean meat and plant-based meat. Clean meat refers to "meat" grown in a lab from a small amount of animal stem cells. This kind of meat isn't on the market yet, but it's in development. Plant-based meat is anything that mimics traditional meat but is made mainly using plant ingredients.

Here's an idea: define "meat" for the Cattlemen's Association, then tax it with an exemption for "lab-grown meat".

Related: Lab-Grown Pork Closer to Reality
Lab-Grown Chicken (and Duck) Could be on the Menu in 4 Years
Inside the Strange Science of the Fake Meat that 'Bleeds'
Impossible Foods Just Raised $75 Million for Its Plant-based Burgers
Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021
Meat Tax Proposed for Sake of Human and Environmental Health.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by requerdanos on Tuesday February 27 2018, @02:20AM (6 children)

    by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27 2018, @02:20AM (#644398) Journal

    Now U.S. Cattlemen's Association is looking to draw a line in the sand, [and launch] the first salvo in a long battle against plant-based foods.

    Okay, the reader is supposed to say. Those wicked cowboys are up to no good! What evil is afoot at their hands?

    the association [asked] the U.S. Department of Agriculture [for] an official definition for the term "beef," and more broadly, "meat."

    Um. That does not look like any sort of battle metaphor nor hostile act. They want "beef" and "meat" to be legally defined so that when I buy something called "beef" I know that it is as a minimum whatever that definition is. I kind of want that too. That way I know what I am buying and if I want a dead cow product, I can look for the word "beef" and if I want something else, I can look for "soylent green" or whatever.

    This seems like 100% of benefit to consumers, of 100% benefit to honest meat producers, of 100% benefit to honest lab-or-plant meatlike food producers.

    The only people who stand to lose out by something like that are the dishonest meat producers (can't call that byproduct patty "meat" anymore) and the dishonest fakemeat makers (can't call fake meat just "meat"), with consumers winning in either case.

    "While at this time alternative protein sources are not a direct threat to the beef industry, we do see improper labeling of these products as misleading," said Lia Biondo, the association's policy and outreach director.

    I see improper labeling as misleading, too, and I do not produce meat for a living (but I purchase it and cook it and eat it).

    "Our goal is to head off the problem before it becomes a larger issue" [said Bondo.]

    Well, you probably also have goals like "spread FUD about fakemeat" and "make people distrust fakemeat" and "hmm I wonder if this flu epidemic is related to fakemeat" and things like that.

    But the labeling thing is a laudable goal, and I appreciate your making that effort.

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  • (Score: 2) by Whoever on Tuesday February 27 2018, @03:01AM (3 children)

    by Whoever (4524) on Tuesday February 27 2018, @03:01AM (#644423) Journal

    Let's have a definition of meat.

    Does "pink slime" aka "mechanically recovered meat" count?

    What about meat byproducts? What about animal products that contain very little muscle tissue: is that meat?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by requerdanos on Tuesday February 27 2018, @03:25PM (2 children)

      by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27 2018, @03:25PM (#644641) Journal

      Let's have a definition of meat.

      I would start with a working definition along the lines of "harvested edible flesh of a living animal" with edible referring to texture (no hoof/hair for example), not preference.

      Does "pink slime" aka "mechanically recovered meat" count?

      Absolutely yes. They may or may not be appetizing, desirable meat to everyone, but they are (at least under my definition here) meat. As an aside, I eat and enjoy both of these, the first in pre-formed hamburger patties [fatsecret.com] and the second in things like Vienna sausages [amazon.com].

      What about meat byproducts?

      If by meat byproducts you mean organs (gizzards, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, stomach, intestinal walls) and random parts (connective tissue, blood, bones, excess fat), then yes, these plus choicer meats form a meat we call "sausage."

      What about animal products that contain very little muscle tissue: is that meat?

      Now we come down to a real challenge to my definition above... The blood, bones, brains, and intestinal walls, for example, are technically edible, but are they meat? I would say, sticking with the definition above, that yes, they are meat, again that you might put into sausage, but not generally regarded as yummy meats.

      According to this definition, yucky genuine animal parts are "meat" and choice lab-grown steaks are "not meat."

      Your probing questions suggest that perhaps there should be more than one class of "meat" in the definition. Maybe something along the lines of, for a suggestion, class 3, "harvested edible flesh of a living animal"==meat that may include any part of the animal; class 2 meat that can't contain any of a particularly yucky class of non-yummy things, and class 1 meat that has to be muscle-tissue derived?

      That way brains-and-bones soup would contain class 3 meat, sausages class 2, and burgers or prime rib class 1.

      And any class of meat != any class of lab-grown tasty zombie flesh. "Try TZF! You'll love it."

      A looming problem: Are, or are not, those stem cells and the lab-grown resultant steak, harvested animal products?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27 2018, @04:45PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27 2018, @04:45PM (#644665)

        Traditionally, there are meats, organ meats and animal products. The differences are relatively straightforward.

        • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Tuesday February 27 2018, @11:45PM

          by Osamabobama (5842) on Tuesday February 27 2018, @11:45PM (#644874)

          Traditionally (in some traditions), fish isn't meat. Each tradition is straightforward, but there are multiple standards. Which one will the USDA use? Probably a new one.

          Obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com]

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Whoever on Tuesday February 27 2018, @03:04AM

    by Whoever (4524) on Tuesday February 27 2018, @03:04AM (#644431) Journal

    Before lab-grown meat becomes mainstream, they are using the distinction between meat from animals and plant-based products that simulate meat to create a definition of meat that won't include the real and long-term threat: lab grown meat.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by deimtee on Tuesday February 27 2018, @11:18AM

    by deimtee (3272) on Tuesday February 27 2018, @11:18AM (#644563) Journal

    It's a bit like the arguments for and against labelling GMO foods.
    Those in favor were arguing that giving customers more information was a good thing. The choice was theirs to make, regardless of how rational you thought they weren't.
    Those against argued that consumers would make poor choices and that the labels would confuse the poor plebs.

    You can probably tell my opinion on GMO labelling. If I want to make a choice on how to spend my money based on something you consider irrational I don't give a flying fuck what you think. I, and everyone else, make less than perfectly rational choices all the time. It's no-one else's business if I choose to pay extra for non-GMO foods, and you paternalistic fucks who think it is can fuck off.

    (Actually, in most cases I don't give a shit about GMO's, it's the 'I know what's good for you better than you do' attitude that pisses me off. Label the fuckers and let the free market sort shit out. (To be clearer I think things like golden rice are brilliant. Things were they add a gene so that the plant can withstand higher doses of poison, and they then use that extra poison, not so much. After all, I don't have the extra genes to withstand that poison.))

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