The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) submitted official comments to the USDA outlining key principles for the regulation of fake meat products.
Its principles included a request to the USDA that it works with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “take appropriate, immediate enforcement action against improperly-labeled imitation products" due to the NCBA believing that the term ‘beef’ should only be applicable to products derived from actual livestock raised by farmers and ranchers.
The NCBA is also urging the 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” as it believes that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the agency best placed to regulate emerging lab-grown meat products.
“It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” said NCBA president Kevin Kester. “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.”
The National Farmers Union (NFU) also lent its support to the petition. In a letter to the USDA-FSIS, president Roger Johnson said: “NFU is concerned with the recent introduction of foods composed of alternative protein sources that are being labeled and marketed as ‘meat’.
“NFU embraces new opportunities for family farmers and ranchers, including further development of markets for plant-based and insect-based proteins. However, we believe all food products should be clearly labeled in a manner that helps consumers make informed decisions and allows producers to differentiate their products.”
He also highlighted concerns about development of alternative meat products grown in laboratories using animal cells.
“These products are not derived from animals born, raised, and harvested in a traditional manner, and should not be permitted to be marketed as “meat,’” said Johnson. “We also urge consistent application of the requested definition standards across meat products, including poultry, pork, and lamb.”
In February, the United States Cattlemen’s Association petitioned the USDA to “exclude products not derived directly from animals raised and slaughtered from the definition of ‘beef’ and ‘meat’”.