A new Federal bill introduced to congress would require all plant-based and cultured beef products to be labeled as “imitation.” The Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully Act of 2019, also known as the Real M.E.A.T. Act, was co-sponsored by representatives Anthony Brindsi, a democrat from New York, and Roger Marshall, a republican from Kansas. So far, the battle over food identity standards has taken place on the state level. Similar proposals already have appeared in more than half of the country’s state legislatures. They have been enacted in several states, including Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi. Most are being challenged in court. Meat processors argue that using terms like “beef” or “burger” on alternative protein is misleading and confusing to consumers. The bill claims that the lack of a federal definition for beef has “led some to begin marketing imitation products as meat or beef, creating the opportunity for marketplace confusion and consumer fraud.” Others, such as the Good Food Institute, are defending the practice on free speech grounds. Proposals such as the Real M.E.A.T. Act, they claim, are intended to prevent plant-based alternatives from cutting into conventional meat sales.
Lightbulb Moment: This battle started with Dairy and has now moved to meat. Research has shown that consumers are not confused but the underlying question is, do non-meat products have the right to be called something they are not? Is it simply false advertising? Let’s have meat products start calling themselves “salad” and let’s see how it goes, shall we?
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