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As USDA approves cell-cultivated chicken, more states tighten labeling laws


The Good Food Institute argues that U.S. state legislatures are taking steps to undermine the market through label censorship, which it calls unconstitutional and unnecessary. Consumer choice rather than label censorship should determine winners and losers in the marketplace.

MADYSON FITZGERALD: Select U.S. restaurants have begun serving laboratory-grown chicken, spurring long wait times for reservations by diners curious to taste it.

In June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave final approval for a few California-based companies to begin selling lab-produced chicken across the country.

While it may be years before lab-grown meat is available at grocery stores, a handful of states are tightening rules on labeling the new food, which is produced by growing cells acquired from living animals into muscle tissue.

Consumers interested in sustainable foods that avoid the slaughter of animals are driving the growing industry. But, pushed by the cattle and poultry industries, more states are defining what can be sold to consumers as “meat” and are requiring prominent labels on products cultured in labs.

Under a USDA agreement, UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat, as well as the latter’s manufacturing partner JOINN Biologics, will sell their products with the label “cell-cultivated chicken,” while the department develops further labeling rules.

But some states are imposing their own additional requirements. Texas passed the most recent bill… Starting Sept. 1, cultivated products in Texas must include the term “cell-cultured,” “lab-grown” or similar wording on packaging near the name of the product, in type at least the same size as the text around it…

In 2018, Missouri became the first state to pass legislation requiring different labeling for traditional meat versus products not derived from livestock or poultry…

Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming enacted similar legislation the following year. In 2020, Oklahoma enacted a law giving state officials the authority to enforce meat labeling practices.

This year, Iowa considered a bill to prohibit lab-grown proteins in public schools, but it didn’t pass. A Michigan labeling measure remains in committee. Kentucky’s 2019 law deems a food misbranded if it is labeled as meat but contains cultured animal tissue…

The cell-cultured meat industry has made significant strides in recent years. As of 2022, the global number of cultivated meat companies rose to 156, with headquarters in 26 countries, according to the Good Food Institute’s State of the Industry report. The nonprofit, which advocates in favor of protein alternatives and prefers the term “cultivated” meat, found that all-time investments in the industry had reached $2.8 billion globally last year.

The institute argues that U.S. state legislatures are taking steps to undermine the market through “label censorship,” which it calls unconstitutional and unnecessary. “It’s always been our position that state label censorship through legislative efforts were kind of a ‘solution in search of a problem,’” said Laura Braden, associate director of regulatory affairs and an attorney at the Good Food Institute. “Consumer choice rather than label censorship should determine winners and losers in the marketplace.” SOURCE…


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