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THE OTHER MEAT: ‘Pork’ industry joins battle to stop plant-based products from being called ‘meat’

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Rachel Konrad (Impossible Foods): What's ironic is that we bend over backwards to make it clear we are plant-based. We have a huge logo on our products that says, 'Made from plants'.

JESSIE HIGGINS: ‘The unveiling of Impossible Foods’ latest product — “Impossible Pork” — has drawn American pork producers into a years-long battle waged by the beef industry to stop plant-based companies from calling their foods some sort of meat. “It’s not pork,” said Dan Kovich, director of science and technology for the National Pork Producers Council. “The ironic thing is that’s impossible. You can’t get pork from plants unless you feed them to a pig.”

Beginning in 2016, companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat launched a series of meat alternatives made from plants. Their early products were beef burger substitutes. The companies later started to market plant-made sausage, and Impossible Pork was unveiled earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The companies claim their products are virtually indistinguishable from real meat — and many include the name of the meat they are mimicking in the product label…

Organizations like the National Pork Producers Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Livestock Marketing Association are pushing the federal government to force these companies to rename their products. Under current law, only the Food and Drug Administration has the power to stop plant-based operations from using traditional meat terms to define their products…

An FDA representative said the agency is reviewing its stance on the “standards of identity” for dairy products, and that “until we finish reviewing, we don’t have additional comment on the labeling of plant-based food product”… Meanwhile, at least 13 states have enacted laws that ban companies from calling plant-based products by terms used to define traditional meat. And lawmakers in at least 27 states have filed similar bills…

On the national level, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., introduced the Real MEAT Act in October, which defines “beef” as coming from a cow and requires companies imitating beef to include the word “imitation” in the label, among other provisions. Its purpose is to eliminate consumer confusion and deceptive marketing, Marshall has said… U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., introduced a similar bill in December. No action has been taken on that bill.

“What’s ironic about [these bills] is we bend over backwards to make it clear we are plant-based,” said Rachel Konrad, a spokeswoman for Impossible Foods. “We have a huge logo on our products that says, ‘Made from plants.’ We do not want any confusion, and we know the reason why our growth is skyrocketing is because there is no confusion.” She added that her company is monitoring the new bills and will follow all applicable state and federal laws’.  SOURCE…

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