US farmers call for federal action over meat labelling

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Meat definition sought by US farmers
Farmers in the US have called for federal officials to establish a definition for ‘meat’ as more alternative products enter the market.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has called for a definition that will inform consumers about the difference between meat products that come from livestock raised in the traditional manner and alternative proteins that are created in a laboratory. The NFU is calling for a clarification of the standard of identity for ‘meat’.

NFU president Roger Johnson has called for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action because of rapidly evolving technologies, such as animal cell culture applications.

He pointed out that the FDA had the responsibility under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to deem a food “misbranded”​ if its labelling was false or misleading, if it was offered for sale under the name of another food or if it was an imitation of another food.

“Labelling foods produced using animal cell culture technology as ‘meat’ and other related products is false and misleading,”​ he said.

“Existing labelling and marketing laws should be consistently enforced, and regulations should be updated to promote fair competition for producers and the health and safety of consumers.”

He said that common names given to meat and animal products were widely understood by consumers to be the tissue and flesh of animals that had been slaughtered for food.

The NFU was concerned because of “extreme consolidation”​ in the beef, pork and poultry industries, which has diminished family farmers’ and ranchers’ market share.

“Lab-grown products are likely to be produced by large companies, including the major global meatpackers, exacerbating the anti-competitive practices facing family farmers and ranchers and the rural communities in which they live,” ​he said.

It is critical that a clear standard of identity for ‘meat’ and related products is established and that this standard is implemented consistently across the federal government.”

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