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Beef's Beef with Lab-grown Beef

by Countable | 2.23.18

UPDATE – August 28, 2018:

Missouri just became the first state to regulate the use of the word “meat.”

Specifically, the new rule says that if a food product isn’t from an actual cow, chicken, pig, turkey, or other animal with two or four feet, then it can’t be marketed as meat.

Violators may be fined $1,000 and imprisoned for a year.

On Monday, the company that makes Tofurky – along with other interested groups – filed an injunction in a Missouri federal court to prevent enforcement of the statute, alleging 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 Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, which supported the statute, said it’s not terribly concerned with plant-based companies such as Tofurky. It takes bigger issue with newer science developing lab-grown meat, which it believes needs to be disclosed to consumers once available.

According to an Israeli startup called Future Meat Technologies, which just got a large investment from (animal) meat giant Tyson Foods, that reality isn’t too far away. “Clean meat” produced in a lab from animal cells may be in restaurants by the end of 2018.

—Sara E. Murphy

Countable's original story appears below.

What’s the story?

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) filed a 15-page petition with the USDA to prevent products from being labeled as "meat" or "beef" unless they’re made from a slaughtered animal.

The ranchers are asking that the U.S. Department of Agriculture differentiate conventional meat from what’s known as “clean meat”—that grown in a lab using animal cells.

Why does it matter?

The USCA writes in their petition:

"[The government] should require that any product labeled as ‘beef’ come from cattle that have been born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, rather than coming from alternative sources such as a synthetic product from plant, insects, or other non-animal components and any product grown in labs from animal cells."

The country’s ranchers mention various startups that are working to bring lab-grown meat to the marketplace, including Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats, and Mosa Meats.

Business Insider explained that "proponents of meat-mimicking foods like cultured meat and plant-based ‘meat’ argue that it's more environmentally friendly than raising traditional livestock."

What do you think?

Should "meat" be reserved for slaughtered animals? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts – and tastes – below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia / iStock)

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