A new Missouri law has got beef with lab-grown ‘meat’

As scientists engineer new ways to create food without animals, old producers are lobbying for strict labeling laws for protection.


August 29, 2018

Under Missouri law, food producers are now prohibited from marketing anything that doesn’t come from animal flesh as “meat.” This Great Missouri Meat Mandate is the first law to regulate use of the m-word.

The rise of lab-grown meat alternatives has sparked a war between old-school food producers and non-traditional food engineers — and in this battle, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association has tallied a victory.

Big meat is feeling the heat

According to representatives of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, the new legislation is necessary to educate shoppers about “what they’re getting.”

To protect consumers from “misrepresentation,” the law bans any food product not derived from an animal with 2 or 4 feet from using “meat nomenclature” (i.e., words like “sausage” or “hot dog”). Failure to comply results in a $1K fine and up to a year in prison. 

But there’s another storyline here: 70% of the world’s population has cut back on meat consumption (the number of vegans in the US increased 600% in the last 3 years) — and ranchers are feeling heat from imitation meat brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Think twice before you tangle with Tofurky

Critics have condemned the law for stifling competition and violating First Amendment rights. But the meat-replacement industry, which made $4.2B last year, has decided to meet the challenge head on.

Tofurky, a producer of plant-based turkey, filed a lawsuit to prevent the impending veggie-burger crackdown, reminding officials that no consumer has ever expressed confusion about the meaning of clearly labeled “plant-based meats.”

It’s not just the meat industry that’s spoiled…

As scientists develop new ways to produce food, legacy industries will continue protecting their imperiled products any way they can. 

Take milk: Conventional milk sales have fallen 17% while plant-based milk sales have increased 100%, and the relationship between old-school dairy farmers and plant-based milk producers has soured. 

By milking the argument that “an almond doesn’t lactate,” Big Cowjuice has passed something called the Dairy Pride Act that could impose the same beefy limits on the language non-dairy milk-makers could use.

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