Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

Beef's Beef with Lab-grown Beef

by Countable | Updated on 8.28.18

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

Related Reading

(Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia / iStock)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(141)
  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    02/23/2018
    ···

    I think that livestock meat producers should clearly package their product labeled “We slaughtered this live animal to produce this meat product”. If corporations are people, according to Republicans, then meat grown in a lab and plant-based meat and milk products are meat and milk. Also, if you want other food product producers to label their product in a specific manner, Then you should provide the Nutrition label, The American Consumers are requesting, that clearly define all ingredients and chemicals in your product.

    Like (98)
    Follow
    Share
  • Jonathan
    Voted Angry
    08/29/2018
    ···

    This isn't about tofu, it's a pre-emptive attack on cultured meat, which doesn't even exist yet. Cultured meat will still be meat, so no law should prohibit calling it meat. It will just be a healthier form, produced in a cruelty-free way.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Joshua
    Voted Sad
    08/29/2018
    ···

    Lab grown meat is meat. There is literally no other word for it. You can't legislate that fact. Besides that simple reality, lab-grown meat should be encouraged as a way to feed more people with less land, less pollution, and less water usage than traditional animal husbandry.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Jeffrey
    Voted Apathetic
    08/29/2018
    ···

    I'm actually fine with lab grown meat, as long as it is clearly labled. The fake (plant based) meat should not EVER be labeled as meat.

    Like
    Follow
    Share
  • Joyce
    Voted Excited
    08/29/2018
    ···

    BECAUSE KILLING ANY ANIMAL, EVEN FOR MEAT, IS ALWAYS CRUEL AND UNNECESSARY!!!

    Like
    Follow
    Share
  • Leo
    02/23/2018
    ···

    Just label it as lab grown meat. That would make it easily distinguishable from regular meat.

    Like (64)
    Follow
    Share
  • Frances
    Voted Angry
    08/29/2018
    ···

    JUST LIKE WITH GMO LABELLING, WE DESERVE TO KNOW HOW OUR FOOD IS MADE--IS IT FROM AN ANIMAL OR GROWN IN A LAB? WE DESERVE TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE GETTING WHEN WE ARE PAYING FOR OUR FOOD! WE DON'T WANT TO BE UNKNOWING EXPERIMENTS!

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Nancy
    Voted Apathetic
    08/29/2018
    ···

    REALLY THIS SEEMS A NO BRAINER SINCE THE FOOD INDUSTRY HAS CONVINCED A LOT OF PEOPLE TO CONSUME CHEMICALS MORE THAN REAL FOOD ANYWAY

    Like
    Follow
    Share
  • RadicalModerate
    02/23/2018
    ···

    Hemp seeds contain the highest quality protein on earth, it’s cheaper to produce than meat and has no carbon footprint.

    Like (48)
    Follow
    Share
  • Gage
    02/23/2018
    ···

    This is a petition to protect a soon to be outdated and inefficient method of producing food, lab grown meat from cultured cells are every bit as legitimate as meat carved from a dead animal. Lab grown meat produces more food for less energy and is better for the environment, opposing it is opposing the right thing to do

    Like (37)
    Follow
    Share
  • gwenhutch
    02/23/2018
    ···

    As a vegetarian I agree that products made from soy, vegetables and other alternatives should not be labeled as meat. That is a given and they are currently not labeled as such. But the fact of the matter with lab-grown meat is that it is meat. If you are taking the cells of a live animal to produce meat then it is meat. If this is really that troublesome to farmers then simply require a distinction between the slaughterhouse meat and the lab-grown meat. (But don't make them not call it meat, it /is/ meat!)

    Like (34)
    Follow
    Share
  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    02/23/2018
    ···

    Republicans want to pick and choose what regulations apply to them and their businesses and what shall apply to others (competitors), generally seeking to disadvantage competitors. Guess what Republicans, this is not the Bible. You do not get to pick and choose what you like and interpret it in the manner you desire. These actions are what Anheuser-Busch did with the Beer industry. They wrote the policies, in which every competitor would have to comply, unethically, disadvantaging everyone else. Now that those policies have been rewritten ethically, Anheuser-Busch is losing ground, and rightly so, for such a low quality product. Simply put, other food manufacturers are preparing and delivering higher quality products that society desires and you people are trying to conspire to write the laws and disadvantage others.

    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
  • Abbi
    02/23/2018
    ···

    Hmm non slaughtered animal meat? Can we make milk from cells too? I'm tired of the gut wrenching guilt of cow mothers separated from their babies after being forced to create them through an insemination machine every time I want a bowl of Frosted Flakes. Also it's meat. It's just not from a slaughterhouse and I will eat that over killing Bessie any day.

    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
  • Brittney
    02/23/2018
    ···

    There needs to be a distinction to let consumers know whether the “beef” is traditional or lab-grown. I’m fine with still calling it beef, but the qualifier should be clearly labeled.

    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
  • Gerald
    02/23/2018
    ···

    This is to J who said “Let Libtards eat this test tube shit - it’s probably what gives them autism.” As a master of debate and high level critical writing I have to say that this is the lowest tactic of critical discourse (if you can even categorize it as such) attack the person or group instead of the message or ideas. This tactic is usually used when you either don’t have a reasonable argument or you aren’t capable of constructing one. It also gives all conservatives and Republicans a bad name. Further, it is a form of bullying and name calling that diminishes you more than those you attack. I personally am embarrassed for you J. Come on step up and present your argument.

    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
  • Chickie
    02/23/2018
    ···

    Why would something be labeled beef or meat if it did not come from a cow or other animal slaughtered for consumer consumption? How is that even a question? Better yet, how much of taxpayer money was spent to study this? This is where we need to say stop misspending taxpayer money! If it is a lab generated product, it should be labeled as such. However, do not give it a misnomer of beef, pork or other type of food if was created in a lab!

    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
  • Nicket
    02/23/2018
    ···

    I’m very torn. I feel like there is certainly an aspect of “authenticity” to regular meat that should definitely be respected (much like how organic produce tastes better and feels better to eat). Furthermore I respect the farmers and don’t want them to lose jobs. But I also support lowering the carbon footprint and not slaughtering animals, both of which are very dear to me. I think the best solution is to have lab meat be labeled as “Lab Grown meat” or something along those lines. Have it clearly and prominently labeled. And then let consumers decide.

    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
  • burrkitty
    08/29/2018
    ···

    Dose it have cow DNA in its cells? Then it’s beef. Whether we label it “carcass” or “cultured” is irrelevant. If it’s cow DNA, it’s beef. All the better if a animal didn’t have to die for it. The dairy industry has made much the same complaints about plant “milks”, “butter”, and “cheese”. They failed for the same reason the beef industry will fail. The way people use words can’t be regulated like that. Just as Clorox, Kleenex, Jello, Band-aid, Google, and all the other brands that are now generic words. How about the meat industry learns to compete instead of trying to regulate the competition out with semantics, huh? Coal and horse drawn carriages aren’t coming back either.

    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
  • Donna
    02/23/2018
    ···

    We have children being slaughtered in schools, our civil liberties being challenged or removed daily, an administration attempting to undo major freedoms granted and protected by the Constitution, an investigation into the meddling of a foreign adversary into our elections, a Congress that cannot agree on what day of the week it is and refusing to compromise on anything, a rising deficit and level of debt from which we cannot escape, a real threat of war with North Korea, bridges failing, roads crumbling, damns being breached, an EPA failing to protect our environment, a Department of the Interior destroying our public lands, a State Department in exile and a slew of White House staff members handling classified information without the proper clearances. I really don't care what the USCA wants labeled meat or lab-grown. This is not exactly a pressing problem given all the other things with which we should be concerning ourselves. How about if we just add it to the list and circle around to it at a time when the rest of our national security, values and identity are not in danger?

    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
  • KansasTamale
    02/23/2018
    ···

    It’s simple. Just label the lab grown meat with “LAB GROWN”. Why does government have to make everything so difficult???

    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
  • operaman
    02/23/2018
    ···

    I'm going to wait for this issue to be worked out. Maybe it's ok for a hamburger, but a steak? Science is a miracle, but this is a big deal to swallow. Remember the cereal kid on commercials, Mikey? He could eat anything…right.

    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
  • Leon
    02/23/2018
    ···

    Label it as lab grown and move on. Just like Boca is plant based and let consumers decide.

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • Michael
    02/23/2018
    ···

    I support the freedom to label lab-grown meat what it is — meat. Don’t allow special interests to slow down the adoption of an amazing new technology that will create a better world for humans and animals alike.

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • Lynn
    02/23/2018
    ···

    Two labels are needed here. One says THIS PRODUCT WAS GROWN IN A LABORATORY. The other says THIS PRODUCT WAS GROWN IN AN OVERCROWDED FEED LOT AND PACKED FULL OF SYNTHETIC HORMONES AND DRUGS THAT WERE PRODUCED IN A LABORATORY. See? Problem solved. You’re welcome.

    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
  • RAnthony
    02/23/2018
    ···

    I have been and remain anxious to be in the front line of consumers for this product. It's good for the environment, it's better for the animals. Because it is only muscle cells, there is no chance of gut bacteria getting mixed in with the meat causing costly recalls and deadly food poisoning. Truth be told, we have no choice. The increase in protein demand from a more affluent world population will require us to produce meat in this fashion if we can ever hope to feed everyone while not destroying the environment. Do not fall for the natural fallacy and believe cows are natural and lab meat is artificial. Cows were modified by man to be what they are today. Lab meat is simply the next step in that process. What we need to be thinking about, on this subject, is not what we call meat that is grown from animals we recognize in the field, but rather what names we will apply to the kinds of cultured meat that will appear after this technology is accepted. If you blend genomes to heighten taste and (for example) remove allergens like alpha gal from the product, it won't be beef or pork any longer. It will still be muscle tissue (meat) but what kind of meat that would be part of what kind of animal never seen in the wild or on the farm? That is the real quandary. In any case, the meat producers must not be allowed to try to alienate the consumer from this new food supply, altering the playing field to suit themselves and not the entirety of humanity on the planet as the oil companies and tobacco companies and the sugar industry has done in the past. This needs to be put to rest now so that consumers can be assured that they are getting what they pay for and that no business can blow smoke up consumers butt with fake claims of 'natural' and 'organic'. As if you can digest isn't organic. As if feed lots and slaughter houses are natural. Do not fall for that kind of bull because you will get the bullshit*t along with it, and that can kill you.

    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
  • RyanMc
    02/23/2018
    ···

    Sure but let's apply these distinctions across the board: Lab grown meat, cultured meat, slaughtered meat.

    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share