NCBA, USCA talk fake meat labeling
Today the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted official comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlining key principles for the regulation of fake meat products. The comments, filed in response to Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Petition Number 18-01, encourage USDA to look beyond modifying “standards of identity” in order to provide adequate protection for beef producers and consumers.
“It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” said Kevin Kester, President of NCBA. “As long as we have a level playing field, our product will continue to be a leading protein choice for families in the United States and around the world.”
NCBA’s regulatory principles are designed to effectively address both plant-based and lab-grown imitation beef products. Specifically, NCBA:
1) Requests that USDA work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “take appropriate, immediate enforcement action against improperly-labeled imitation products.”
NCBA firmly believes the term beef should only be applicable to products derived from actual livestock raised by farmers and ranchers. For misbranded and mislabeled plant-based protein products, existing legislation gives FDA the authority to take enforcement actions. However, the agency has a history of failing to enforce labeling laws. Rather than expending time and resources to develop a standard of identity the FDA will blatantly ignore, NCBA requests USDA engage with FDA to facilitate immediate, appropriate enforcement actions against imitation meat product labels that clearly violate existing laws.
2) Urges USDA to “assert jurisdiction over foods consisting of, isolated from or produced from cell culture or tissue culture derived from livestock and poultry animals or their parts.”
NCBA believes that USDA-FSIS is the agency best placed to regulate emerging lab-grown meat products. First, USDA-FSIS possesses the technical expertise and regulatory infrastructure to ensure perishable meat food products are safe for U.S. consumers. Lab-grown meat must comply with the same stringent food safety inspection standards as all other meat products.
Second, USDA-FSIS labeling standards provided greater protection against false and misleading marketing claims. Unlike the FDA, USDA-FSIS requires pre-approval of all labels before products hit the marketplace. This will ensure consistent labeling practices across all products, and prevent misleading marketing labels such as “clean meat.”
“Now is the time for everyone to pull together and establish needed definitions for meat and non-meat products. Leading agriculture groups like the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, Livestock Marketing Association and the National Bison Association are all coming together to address this issue in order to secure a win for U.S. livestock producers. It will take teamwork and coordination to advance this issue via the proper channels. There will be both an FDA and USDA-FSIS component to this issue. The U.S. livestock industry will then need to work with Congress to finalize the needed definitions of these various products, which will most likely take place through the Farm Bill. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association looks forward to working with all livestock and agriculture groups in carrying out this effort.”
The deadline to submit comments to USDA FSIS is April 17 and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association encourages all state and national associations, along with individual livestock producers, to keep weighing in with comments. For details on the petition and how to submit comments, click here: http://www.uscattlemen.org/ . You can find a full list of already-submitted comments here: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/petitions”