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WHAT’S IN A NAME: Texas governor signs new labeling law for plant-based and cultivated meat

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The Texas law requires plant-based or fermented analogs of meat, poultry, seafood and eggs to have a prominent label as: analogue, meatless, plant-based, made from plants, cell-cultured, lab-grown or with similar clarifying language.

MEGAN POINSKI: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill requiring clear labeling of analogs of meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, as well as cultivated meat. The law takes effect Sept. 1.

According to an analysis of the bill, the new law “seeks to address the issue of unclear labeling” on products that look and taste similar to the traditional animal-derived products. The law requires these products to have prominent labeling in close proximity to the product name that explains it is an analog or that it was made through cell cultivation…

The Texas law requires plant-based or fermented analogs of meat, poultry, seafood and eggs to have a prominent label with type at least the same size as the text around it labeling products as “analogue,” “meatless,” “plant-based,” “made from plants” or with similar clarifying language.

A similar requirement for cultivated meat in the state law requires that any food product made from harvesting animal cells replicated to produce tissue have a similar label. The bill suggests the label say “cell-cultured,” “lab-grown” or similar language.

The Texas Farm Bureau, an advocacy group of farmers and ranchers that supported the measure, named truth in labeling as one of its legislative priorities this year. It said on its website the bill would benefit farmers, ranchers and consumers…

Texas’s new law is similar to ones signed a few years ago in several other states. These laws were intended to more keenly differentiate between traditional slaughtered meat and similar products made from plants or by fermentation — or those that are not yet available made from cultured cells.

As some of these laws started to take effect, advocacy groups including the Good Food Institute, legal organizations such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund and plant-based meat companies including Tofurky, have fought back in the courtroom. So far, litigation in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas has yielded favorable decisions for meat alternative companies, while cases in Missouri and Oklahoma are pending.

In the cases that have ended in decisions, courts have ruled the laws do not apply to any current company making meat analogs. The products on the market today have clear labeling, rulings have found. In Arkansas, the court found the law infringes on plant-based meat companies’ First Amendment rights “to convey meaningful, helpful information to consumers about the products they are purchasing.”

Drake Jamali, a legislative specialist at the Good Food Institute, said Texas’s law has “requirements that are premature, unnecessary, and could create severe economic impacts for small businesses. Simply put, Texas consumers are not confused about the foods they purchase and this law will do nothing to protect consumers.” Jamali said GFI and other stakeholders are continuing to review the legality of the new law. SOURCE…

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