Meat Mimicry: The Imitation Meat Labeling Debacle

Feb 2, 2024

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but lawmakers want to chop into imitation meat labels to increase transparency in plant- and cell-cultured protein products.


Transparency and clarity: The Fair and Accurate Ingredient Representation on Labels Act of 2024 (or, more succinctly, the FAIR Labels Act – would require additional disclaimers on products derived from sources other than meat.


Imitation classification: The legislation would amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act to define these products as “imitation” and require them to be labeled as such.


Soundbite: “America’s farmers and ranchers work hard every day to bring a high-quality, wholesome product to market. We’re not afraid of a little competition, but it is unfair for lab-grown or plant-based fake meat products to trade on beef’s good name. This bill is especially important for ensuring that consumers recognize lab-grown products that may be coming to market in the future. Consumers deserve to know how their food is made and to understand that lab-grown products made in a bioreactor are not the same as the high-quality beef raised by farmers and ranchers.” – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Todd Wilkinson, a South Dakota cattle producer.


On the other hoof: The Good Food Institute, which advocates for meat alternatives, says consumer research they commissioned found consumers prefer a “cultivated” label rather than “cultured,” “lab-grown,” or “cell-based.”


Ag’s got the bill’s back: The FAIR Labels Act has support on both sides of the aisle and from organizations like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, American Sheep Industry Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council and National Association of State Department of Agriculture.