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posted by martyb on Thursday August 30 2018, @05:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the how-can-you-get-any-pudding-if-you-don't...-what? dept.

Missouri has prohibited producers of meat alternatives, such as lab-grown/cultured meat and plant-based fake meats, from using the term "meat" to describe products not derived from harvested livestock or poultry:

On Tuesday, Missouri becomes the first state in the country to have a law on the books that prohibits food makers to use the word "meat" to refer to anything other than animal flesh. This takes aim at manufacturers of what has been dubbed fake or non-traditional meat. Clean meat -- also known as lab-grown meat -- is made of cultured animal tissue cells, while plant-based meat is generally from ingredients such as soy, tempeh and seitan.

The state law forbids "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry." Violators may be fined $1,000 and imprisoned for a year.

[...] The Missouri Cattlemen's Association, which worked to get the state law passed, has cited shopper confusion and protecting local ranchers as reasons for the legislation. "The big issue was marketing with integrity and...consumers knowing what they're getting," said Missouri Cattlemen's Association spokesman Mike Deering. "There's so much unknown about this."

Turtle Island Foods, which makes "Tofurky", has sued the state:

On Monday, the company that makes Tofurky filed an injunction in a Missouri federal court to prevent enforcement of the statute, alleging that the state has received no complaints about consumers befuddled by the term "plant-based meats" and that preventing manufacturers from using the word is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Plus, it pointed out, "meat" also refers to the edible part of nuts and fruit.

The statute "prevents the sharing of truthful information and impedes competition," according to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. "The marketing and packaging of plant-based products reveals that plant-based food producers do not mislead consumers but instead distinguish their products from conventional meat products." The co-plaintiff is the Good Food Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

Deering said he was surprised by the suit, because the primary target of the law was lab-grown meat.

Also at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Oregon Live.

Previously: U.S. Cattlemen's Association Wants an Official Definition of "Meat"
Regulation Coming to Lab-Grown Meat
FDA Approves Impossible Burger "Heme" Ingredient; Still Wants to Regulate "Cultured Meat"

Related: FDA May Force Rebranding of Soy, Almond, et al. "Milks"

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  • (Score: 2) by ilsa on Thursday August 30 2018, @09:01PM (3 children)

    by ilsa (6082) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 30 2018, @09:01PM (#728416)

    How exactly is lab-grown meat not meat? I can understand the plant stuff cause that's definitely not meat, but the lab-grown stuff is literally meat, made from cultured animal cells.

    This is statute is awfully arbitrary and very poorly thought out. No surprise it's being challenged.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30 2018, @10:04PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30 2018, @10:04PM (#728445)

    This is basically getting ahead of the people who mix it then call it meat.

    It is basically how we ended up with USDA and FDA. People were mixing all sorts of things together and calling it cheese or milk.

    This is probably an instance where someone was calling something it was not and the USDA/FDA was a bit behind. Also food laws are not uniform across the united states. They can vary state to state and city to city.

    This is unfortunately terribly common in the food industry. See the many names of sugar. Most people would call it fraud. But it is not technically against the law.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday August 31 2018, @04:56AM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday August 31 2018, @04:56AM (#728619) Journal

      Top-tier lab-grown meat could become superior in quality to any traditionally harvested meat. No need to throw in low quality parts if you don't grow them in the first place. But there are various forms of pink slime out there right now, and they are still considered meat under the law.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31 2018, @07:15PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31 2018, @07:15PM (#728910)

        Much of what you know as meat is not just the flavor/nutrients from the cells, but from how the animals lived. For instance there is a substantial difference in flavor between free range and caged/fed chickens. And similarly the texture of meats tend to be reflective of the lifestyle of the animal that it is harvested from.

        These cells grown in labs will have substantial additional additives, flavorings, colors, and processing added to try to mimic the flavor/color/texture/etc of real meat. They're never going to become superior to the 'real' thing, which is really another argument for them carving out their own niche rather than trying to act as a replacement for meat. If people want to eat lab grown cells then more power to them, and it's entirely possible people could develop a pallet for these products even without them attempting to mimic the flavors and textures of meat.