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Real Meat Act introduced in Senate

Legislation aims to reduce confusion surrounding animal protein and plant-based protein.

A Nebraska senator has introduced legislation aimed at defining beef for labeling purposes.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, introduced the Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully Act, or Real MEAT Act, on Dec. 11. A companion bill, H.R.4881, was introduced Oct. 28, 2019, in the House by Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas.

“Beef is derived from cattle—period," Fischer said. "Under USDA, beef undergoes a rigorous inspection and labeling process, but plant-based protein products that mimic beef and are sometimes labeled as beef are overseen by the FDA instead. These products are not held to the same food safety and labeling standards as beef. Americans deserve to know what’s on their dinner plate. The Real MEAT Act will protect consumers from deceptive marketing practices and bring transparency to the grocery store."

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association praised Fischer for introducing the legislation, saying it will "deceptive labeling of fake meat products."

"It's clear that fake-meat companies are continuing to mislead consumers about the nutritional merits and actual ingredient composition of their products," said NCBA President Jennifer Houston.

Specifically, the act:

  • Codifies the definition of beef for labeling purposes;
  • Establishes a federal definition of beef that applies to food labels;
  • Preserves the Congressional intent of the Beef Promotion and Research Act;
  • Clarifies the imitation nature of alternative protein products;
  • Enhances the federal government's ability to enforce the law by requiring FDA notify USDA if an imitation meat product is determined to be misbranded and if FDA fails to undertake enforcement within 30 days of notification, the Agriculture Secretary is granted authority to seek enforcement action.
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