Fake meat can’t be called meat

By Kurt Erickson - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (McClatchy) — Missouri lawmakers approved legislation Thursday outlawing companies from labeling lab-grown meat products or meat substitutes as meat.

As part of a package of changes to state agriculture and conservation laws moving through the Legislature, the meat provision states that if a product isn’t derived from an actual cow, chicken, turkey or some other animal with two or four feet, it can’t be marketed as meat.

The change, which now goes to the governor’s desk, was approved on a 125-22 vote. It is backed by the state’s pork producers, the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.

“We’re not trying to mislead anyone. We’re just trying to protect our product,” said Rep. Jeff Knight, R-Lebanon, who sponsored the change.

Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, said he agreed with the change.

“I love me a pork chop,” Razer said.

The change is similar to a regulation announced in France earlier this month that also seeks to ensure no one mistakes a quinoa burger for a beef patty.

If signed into law, Missouri would be the first state to address the issue.

Passage of the change came over the objection of companies that produce vegetarian-based meat-like products.

In addition to raising concerns about free speech when it comes to advertising their products, the companies said Missouri labels will have to be different from those in the rest of the nation.

Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, said some vegetable products contain elements called “meat,” such as jackfruit and nuts. She said many people are moving toward plant-based diets for health and environmental reasons.

“We need to embrace the future,” Lavender said. “There are many people who are eating differently than they used to.”

“I find it a little bit disrespectful of consumers,” said Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette. “You guys are just trying to protect your marketing money.”

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. 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,” said Deering. “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 legislation is Senate Bill 627.

By Kurt Erickson

St. Louis Post-Dispatch