A board member of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Bob Noble, and ICA’s government affairs manager, JanLee Rowlett, last week delivered comments on behalf of ICA during a two-day public meeting on issues being raised by the introduction of laboratory-grown fake meat.
The meeting was held jointly by USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Washington, D.C. The first day focused on regulations related to alternative proteins; the second day discussed labeling of such products.
“We want to ensure that reasonable, science-based standards are the basis for the regulatory system of all meat food products, regardless of how they are produced,” Noble said. “The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association stands behind the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s call for USDA oversight of cell-cultured alternative protein products.”
Key issue for cattle producers
Noble, a cattle producer from Mitchell County in northeast Iowa, has a master’s degree in meat science from Oklahoma State University, and experience in the processing sector.
Regulation of “fake meat” has emerged as a priority for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association over the past few months, as technological advances have decreased the cost to produce lab-grown products, and major meat processing companies such as Tyson and Cargill have invested in the development of these products.
ICA helped bring this issue to the forefront by introducing policy at NCBA related to alternative proteins. NCBA’s main goals are:
• Protect consumers from misleading and confusing labels.
• Maintain consumer confidence and protect the beef industry from disparaging claims by alternative protein companies such as “clean meat” — claims which imply that beef raised by Iowa farm families is unsafe or dirty.
ICA wants USDA regulation
ICA supports the oversight of these products by USDA rather than FDA due to FDA’s failure to enforce labeling rules for plant-based products claiming to be milk.
Noble serves as the District 5 director for the ICA and is a voting delegate for ICA at NCBA meetings. “Cattle producers in Iowa and across the country take their role in producing safe and nutritious beef for consumers very seriously,” he told the USDA-FDA meeting. “From the pasture, to the processor, to the plate our industry has made investments, and advancements, at every stage of production to ensure the highest level of integrity of the beef we produce.”
On the second day, Rowlett said, “Fair and accurate labeling of meat food products, no matter how they are produced, means the same labeling standards across the board. ‘Beef’ and other terms consumers associate with meat products made from livestock raised by farmers and ranchers should be used to describe only those products, not those produced through cell-cultured technology.”
“These objectives can be achieved only under the primary jurisdiction of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which will ensure a sound scientific basis of labeling and approval of these labels before products are offered on the market,” Rowlett said. “We believe the pre-approval of these labels is absolutely critical to preserving the integrity of all meat offered for sale to American families.”
Other speakers during the two-day meeting included livestock and meat industry representatives, as well as animal rights activists and companies who produce alternative proteins.
“ICA is proud to have a leader like Bob Noble sharing the perspective of Iowa’s cattle producers at this national meeting,” Rowlett said. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions about alternative protein products, but we will continue to make sure ICA members are represented in discussions surrounding the regulation and labeling of these products.”
Source: Iowa Cattlemen’s Association