Some believe that just because it tastes like a steak doesn’t mean it should be labeled as one.
Twelve Republican senators are sponsoring a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that focuses on meat products that are made from plants or insects or contain lab-grown animal tissue.
The bill states that a food is “misbranded” if it’s for sale in Maryland, the label reads “meat” and the product contains or is made from those alternative-meat sources.
“It’s basically trying to get back to, ‘OK, if it’s going to be labeled meat then it needs to be the real thing. It can’t be artificial alternatives to it, even in the case of the lab-grown tissue, animal tissue that now wants to be labeled as meat because I grew it in a petri dish,” said Colby Ferguson, government relations director at the Maryland Farm Bureau. “Those all need to be properly labeled.”
The bill was first read on Jan. 15, and the first hearing is on Feb. 6.
Ferguson said the Maryland Farm Bureau will support the bill.
He said truthful and accurate labels allow consumers to make informed decisions.
“You’re not being given a false reality of what an alternative may or may not actually provide,” Ferguson said, referring to health and nutrition benefits.
The bill is similar to a milk and milk-based products bill that was approved by Gov. Larry Hogan in May 2019.
That bill prohibits the labeling of food products as milk unless they meet the definition of milk, which is a “lacteal secretion, practically free of colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy hooved mammals.”
This includes cattle, sheep and goats.
Enactment of the milk bill is contingent on 11 of 14 specific states, including Alabama, Florida and Virginia, enacting similar legislation. The deadline for this is Oct. 1, 2029.
Last year, the Virginia General Assembly tried to pass a bill pertaining to meat labels. However, the bill did not make it out of committee.
But in Missouri, a bill banning the labeling of a product as “meat” if it doesn’t come from “harvested production livestock,” which include sheep, cows and pigs, or poultry, passed in 2018.
It is expected that the market for meat substitutes will hit $2.5 billion by 2023, according to Euromonitor estimates reported by CNBC.