The US government has called a public meeting to discuss the use of cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry.
The meeting, October 23-24, will focus on the potential hazards, oversight considerations, and labelling of cell cultured food products.
“This is an important opportunity to hear from the agricultural industry and consumers as we consider the regulatory framework for these new products,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says.
“As technology advances, we must consider how to inspect and regulate to ensure food safety, regardless of the production method.”
The meeting comes as the fight over fake meat is heating up in the US with a lawsuit over what’s in a name.
The Good Food Institute (GFI), the Animal Legal Defence Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, and plant-based protein producer Tofurky are suing the state of Missouri over what can be labelled as meat.
The suit filed with the US District Court seeks to overturn a state law prohibiting plant-based and clean meat companies from labelling their products as meat.
Clean meat is the name given by proponents of meat cultured in a laboratory.
Earlier this year, Republican Governor Mike Parson signed legislation prohibiting misrepresenting as meat any product not from a slaughtered animal.
“The statute is a content-based, overbroad and vague criminal law that prevents the sharing of truthful information and impedes competition by plant-based and clean meat companies in the market place,” the suit states.
The GFI says the law has nothing to do with consumer protection.
“The Missouri consumer protection agency has no evidence that consumers are confused by the labels of plant-based products,” the GFI says in a statement.
“No one buys Tofurky ‘plant-based’ deli slices thinking they were carved from a slaughtered animal any more than people are buying almond milk thinking it was squeezed from a cow’s udder.”
The GFI says the Missouri law’s explicit aim is to protect current meat producers from competition from plant-based and clean meat companies.
“Our lawsuit documents that the law infringes on the First Amendment, preventing the clear and accurate labelling of plant-based and clean meat products and denying fair and honest competition in the marketplace,” the GFI says.
Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director Stephen Wells says Missouri is putting its thumb on the scale to unfairly benefit the meat industry and silence alternative producers.
“This law violates various constitutional principles, including free speech – which should be a concern for everyone, regardless of diet,” Wells says.
The lawsuit also claims the Missouri law violates the US constitution by discriminating against out-of-state companies to protect in-state meat producers and infringes on due process because the vague language makes it difficult for companies to know what is and is not legal.