An omnibus bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian Munzlinger,R-18, passed on Thursday, May 17 with a bipartisan 125-22 vote. The legislation, SB 627, carried in the House by Rep. Jay Houghton, R-43, contains several provisions including SB 977, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Crawford, R-28, which is identical to HB 2607 led in the House by Rep. Jeff Knight, R-129. The language prohibits misrepresenting a product as meat that was not derived from harvested livestock. The legislation comes at a time when laboratory grown meat is being debated throughout the country and in Washington D.C.
Missouri became the first state to address the issue with legislation, sending a signal to other states to follow suit. Missouri Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President Mike Deering expects other state cattle organizations to lead legislation in their respective state.
“This isn't a Missouri issue,” Deering said. “This is about protecting the integrity of the products that farm and ranch families throughout the country work hard to raise each and every day. I never imagined we would be fighting over what is and isn't meat. It seems silly. However, this is very real and I cannot stress enough the importance of this issue. We are beyond pleased to see this priority legislation cross the finish-line."
The current definition of meat in Missouri Statutes is: “any edible portion of livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof.” This definition certainly excludes plant-based or even laboratory grown food products from being considered meat. Deering said the problem is there is nothing definitive in state statute to prevent the misrepresentation of these products as meat. The legislation that will now be sent to the governor for consideration prohibits “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” Deering said the association does not oppose plant-based or laboratory grown food products.
“This legislation does not stifle technology, but it does ensure the integrity of our meat supply and reduces consumer confusion,” Deering said. “We must ensure that those products do not mislead consumers into thinking those products are actually meat produced by farm and ranch families. The use of traditional nomenclature on alternative products is confusing to consumers and weakens the value of products derived from actual livestock production.”
The passage of the legislation follows a vote by the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday, May 16 supporting regulatory oversight of lab-grown meat substitutes by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. MCA and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association believe USDA is best placed to ensure food safety and accurate labeling of these products.