USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has responded to Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program’s petition for FSIS to develop a labeling approach for “cell-based” meat and poultry products that respects First Amendment commercial speech protections by not requiring new standards of identity and not banning the use of common or usual meat or poultry terms or other product terms specified in current codified standards of identity. In its letter, FSIS “agrees that more information is necessary to develop new labeling requirements for these products,” stating that in response to the Harvard petition the agency filed an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on September 3, 2021, “to request comments pertaining to the labeling of meat and poultry products comprised of or containing cultured cells derived from animals subject to the Federal Meat Inspection Act or Poultry Products Inspection Act.” Conversely, FSIS has denied a February 9, 2018, petition by U.S. Cattlemen’s Association which urged the agency to exclude “cell-based” meat and plant-based meat substitutes from the definition of “beef” and “meat,” citing the FDA’s exclusive jurisdiction over plant-based products and the USDA’s September 3, 2021, ANPR regarding labeling of cultivated meat.
USDA FSIS Responds to Two Petitions Relating to Labeling of Cultivated Meat
FSIS Solicits Comments to Guide Labeling of Cell-Cultured Meat and Poultry
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, soliciting comments to guide the agency’s future labeling requirements for cell-cultured animal products. The FSIS and FDA agreed in 2019 that both agencies will retain regulatory oversight of certain aspects of the production and distribution of products produced using animal cell culture technology, determining that FSIS will have authority over the labeling process. FSIS is accepting comments through November 2, 2021.
Texas Considers Requiring Cultivated Products be Labeled as “Cell-Cultured” or “Lab-Grown”
Texas House Bill 242 would amend the state Health and Safety Code to define terms such as meat, beef, pork, and poultry to specifically exclude any “cell-cultured, plant-based, or insect-based food product.” The bill would declare a plant-based meat analogue as misbranded if it does not prominently display a term such as “analogue,” “meatless,” or “plant-based” immediately before the name of the product and a cultivated meat product as misbranded if it does not prominently display the term “cell-cultured” or “lab-grown” immediately before the name of the product.
“Estimating the Effect of Moving Meat-Free Products to the Meat Aisle on Sales of Meat and Meat-Free Products: A Non-Randomised Controlled Intervention Study in a Large UK Supermarket Chain”
A new research article by Carmen Piernas, Brian Cook, Richard Stevens, Cristina Stewart, Jennifer Hollowell, Peter Scarborough, and Susan A. Jebb published in PLOS Medicine, “Estimating the Effect of Moving Meat-Free Products to the Meat Aisle on Sales of Meat and Meat-Free Products: A Non-Randomised Controlled Intervention Study in a Large UK Supermarket Chain,” evaluates whether changing the positioning of meat-free products in stores may be an effective method to reduce meat consumption. The study found that prominent positioning of meat-free products in the meat aisle of supermarkets “did not result in decreased sales of equivalent meat products,” but did lead “to a significant increase in sales of meat-free products, which was sustained over time” (by an average of 25%).
Sanctuary to Table Dining: Cellular Agriculture and the Ethics of Cell Donor Animals
A new article by Jan Dutkiewicz and Elan Abrell published in Politics and Animals examines the ethical implications of using “cell donor animals” in the production of cultivated animal products.
Michigan Bill Would Prohibit Labeling Cultivated Meat Products as “Meat”
Michigan House Bill 4982 would prohibit labeling or identifying “a laboratory-grown meat substitute” as meat.
New York Legislation Would Restrict Labeling of Non-Meat Food Items
New York Senate Bill 5396 would declare a food not containing meat misbranded if “the food product is labeled or branded in a false, deceptive or misleading manner that misrepresents the product as meat or meat food product . . . or as poultry.”
Texas Legislation Would Require Disclosure of “Human Benefit” of “Imitation” Meat
Texas Senate Bill 883 would declare a food misbranded if it is “advertised or labeled as containing or imitating meat” if “any part of its labeling is false or misleading; the food is misrepresented as harvested meat through the use of any misleading or deceptive advertising or labeling; any portion of the food’s advertising or labeling suggests or implies that the food imitates meat, beef, chicken, or pork when the food does not; the food includes a label stating ‘meat,’ ‘beef,’ ‘chicken,’ ‘pork,’ or any common variation of those terms, if the food does not contain the products listed on the label;” or “the food’s label includes a claim comparing the food’s nutritional value to that of meat without disclosing the human benefit of the food.” “Human benefit” is not defined. The bill defines “meat” as “any edible portion of a livestock carcass that does not contain lab-grown, cell cultured, insect, or plant-based food products.”
Texas Considers Restrictions on Labeling Animal-Free Products
Texas House Bill 2277 would declare a food misbranded if it is labeled with “a term that has a [federal] standard of identity, if the product does not meet the [federal] standard of identity”; “a claim that the food product is nutritionally similar or superior to a food product with a [federal] standard of identity unless the food product’s label contains a factual comparison of the food products’ nutritional values”; or “an image, depiction, or graphic of a livestock animal, if the food product does not contain a product derived from a livestock animal,” unless the food is labeled with “the word ‘imitation’ immediately followed by the name of the product imitated” and, as applicable, the words “this product does not contain animal protein,” “meatless,” “meat free,” or “egg free.”
Texas Bill Would Require “Imitation” on Label of Animal-Free Products
Texas House Bill 2217 would declare a food misbranded “if it is an imitation of another food, including any food that approximates the texture, flavor, appearance, or other aesthetic qualities of or the chemical characteristics of any specific type of poultry or poultry product, meat or meat food product, egg or egg product, or fish” unless the food is labeled with “the word ‘imitation’ immediately followed by the name of the food imitated” and, as applicable, the words “this product does not contain animal protein,” or the words “meatless,” “meat free,” or “egg free.”