If it’s not real beef, don’t call it beef: US cattle producers

James Nason, 14/02/2018

Only real beef should be called beef.

That’s what US cattle producers have urged the US Government to enshrine in food labelling laws, as they respond to the growing assault on conventional beef production by commerical lab-grown and plant-based meat manufacturers.

The US Cattlemen’s Association filed a 15 page petition with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week asking it to prevent food not made from slaughtered animals from being labeled as “beef” or “meat.”

It was important for consumers to be able to understand which products were from animals harvested in the traditional manner, as opposed to derived from alternative proteins or artificially grown in laboratories.

The group wants the USDA to create a formal definition specifying what can be called beef.

It suggests something like: “any product labeled as “beef” should come from cattle that have been born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, rather than coming from alternative sources such as a synthetic product from plant, insects, or other non-animal components and any product grown in labs from animal cells.”

The Association has also asked the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to narrow the definition of “meat” to the flesh of animals that have been harvested in the traditional way.

The NCBA’s 2018 priorities – click on image to enlarge

Earlier this month The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association unveiled its 2018 policy priorities.

Appearing on the list for the first time this year were the words “Fake Meat”.

The NCBA said its is focusing in 2018 on protecting the industry and consumers from fake meat and misleading labels on products that do not contain real beef.

It is not the first time agricultural groups have sought help from regulators to protect their products through clearer label definitions.

Last year a European Court of Justice ruled that plant-based foods could not be sold in the European Union using terms such as milk, butter and cheese.

The ruling was the culmination of a case involving a company which was selling plant-based products with names including “Soyatoo Tofu Butter” and “Veggie Cheese”.

It said customers were not misled, because their products’ plant origins were clear.

Since December 2013 EU regulations have stated that designations such as milk, butter, cheese cream and yogurt can only be used for marketing and advertising products which are derived from animal milk.

The European Court of Justice ruled that the designations like milk and cheese could not be legally used for purely plant-based products.

In the US the “Dairy Pride Act”, still before Congress, aims to limit the use of words like “milk”, “cheese”, “yogurt” or “ice cream” on any products that did not originate from a cow.

Beef Central has published a series of articles this week on issues surrounding the emergence of lab-grown meat and fake meat.






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