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Missouri wants 'fake' meat clearly labeled

Under legislation passed by Missouri lawmakers this session, the Show-Me State will be the first to require clear labeling of lab-grown or plant-based meat substitutes to designate that these products did not originate from livestock.

The bill, given the green light by the Missouri House on April 26 and the Senate on May 17, prohibits “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” This means manufacturers would not be able to market those products as “meat” if selling them in Missouri.

The measure is backed by Missouri Farm Bureau and the state’s cattle, pork, poultry, corn and soybean associations. Missouri Cattlemen’s Association member Andy McCorkill testified during the House legislative hearing, saying the bill “ensures the integrity of the meat supply” in Missouri.

“Calling [plant-based products] meat without knowing the inspection process, the nutrient profile of these products, food safety or anything is a disservice to farmers, ranchers and consumers,” McCorkill said. “It is important these products don’t misrepresent our industry. We care for our livestock and invest a lot of time and money in ensuring the consumer has a safe, nutritious and affordable product.”

U.S. sales of plant-based substitutes for animal food products rose by 8.1 percent between 2016 and 2017. According to the Plant Based Food Association, 36 percent of consumers purchase plant-based meat substitutes. Among millennials, that figure jumps to 60 percent. These products go by names such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.

Opponents argued that creating a Missouri-specific prohibition would create an untenable situation where products sold in the state must be labeled differently from products sold in all 49 other states.

At press time, the bill was on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk to be signed.

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