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posted by martyb on Monday July 08 2019, @02:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the one-soy-based-hemispherical-cross-section-please dept.

A new law in Mississippi(1) makes it illegal to refer to plant and cell-culture based patties as 'burgers'.

The law would also prohibit the use of "burger" or "dog" in relation to vat-grown, cell-based food, which is made of meat. The statute reserves these appelations for foodstuffs derived from "slaughtered livestock."

The law has naturally been challenged by parties such as the Good Food Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union among others. In a nutshell

The contention on the meat industry side is:

Mike McCormick, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation: "This bill will protect our cattle farmers from having to compete with products not harvested from an animal."

The contention on the other side is:

"There's nothing misleading about the name of a veggie burger, or vegan hot dog, or seitan bacon," Almy, a lawyer on the Missouri case, told me. "The packages clearly disclose that this is plant-based food that has the taste or texture of this familiar food."

A typical American would likely fall somewhere between these two views.

I fully understand (and at times enjoy) 'veggie burgers', however I had to look up 'seitan bacon' (FYI - a traditional Japanese wheat based food that is meat-like) and would not have known what it was at a glance (does super-seitan bacon go to 9000 calories?)

So where do patrons of Soylent Words-Related-to-Current-Happenings fall on this one?

(1) - Note TFA bounces between Missouri and Mississippi actions. There are similar labeling laws in both states. SB 627 in Missouri and SB 2922 in Mississippi.

Related: U.S. Cattlemen's Association Wants an Official Definition of "Meat"
Regulation Coming to Lab-Grown Meat

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08 2019, @09:14AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08 2019, @09:14AM (#864403)

    I don't think this is a fair take on two points. First, let's consider champagne. The reason that most champagne in the US is called sparkling wine is because only champagne made and bottled in France is legally allowed to be called champagne. Incidentally, there was a local wine in Champagne, Switzerland that predates French Champagne by hundreds of years. They were forced to change their product's name by the EU. Aren't supernations awesome! Okay, snark aside I had a point. That is that in spite of that insanity, sparkling wine does fine.

    But in this case the regulation actually makes sense. Sparkling wine made in Champagne, France or Napa Valley, USA is a fundamentally identical product with the only variation coming in terms of product quality and the exact process. Not dissimilar to e.g. corporate chicken meat vs free range chicken meat. But hamburgers and e.g. "impossible burgers" are just entirely different things. One has an ingredient list of 'meat'. One is a lab grown concoction loaded with additives, coloring, chemicals, compounds, and other ingredients to try to replicate the taste, texture, and appearance of the former. Precisely:

    Hamburger: meat

    Impossible Burger: water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, potato protein, methylcellulose, yeast Extract, cultured dextrose, modified food starch, soy leghemoglobin, salt, soy protein isolate, mixed tocopherols, zinc gluconate, thiamine hydrochloride, sodium ascorbate, niacin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, cobalamin

    And so in this case in any way suggesting they are the same thing is simply not a very reasonable thing to do. There's clearly some market for these type of concoctions and so they're not going to lose their market by renaming to something that more clearly represents what they are - they'll only lose the people that were purchasing these things without understanding what they were. And that's a good example of actual consumer-oriented regulation.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08 2019, @04:02PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08 2019, @04:02PM (#864545)

    I think they should legally be required to call them a food substance that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike hamburger.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday July 09 2019, @02:41AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 09 2019, @02:41AM (#864822) Journal

    But hamburgers and e.g. "impossible burgers" are just entirely different things.

    Not really. They're both protein rich patties. The other thing is that champagne is a trademark. Burger and bacon aren't trademarked by anyone. Under present US law, they can't be trademarked as food products because they are in common usage. Sure, if you want to trademark Bacon for anti-virus software, sure. But for food products? No way.

    The phrase "Impossible burger" on the other hand can be so trademarked and is. What is interesting about this law is that it's attempting to make illegal use of this trademark even though there is no compelling reason for the law. I think it'll fail on First Amendment law grounds, but the process could be pretty ugly.