Texas – America’s largest cattle-producing state – passed State Bill 664, which would require meat substitutes to be labeled with qualifying terms such as “analog, meatless, plant-based, made from plants” or “cell-cultured”, “lab-grown”, or similar language. According to the bill’s authors and proponents, SB 664 aims to prevent plant-based and farmed meat companies from making misleading claims about their products and deceiving consumers.
On May 2, the bill passed the Texas state legislature and was sent to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature.
“These bills ensure that consumers are more aware and understand the origins and origins of their food.”
According to the Texas Farm Bureau, which supported the measure, the bill defines meat as “any edible part of an animal carcass that does not contain lab-grown, cell culture, insect or plant-based food products.” The definition of livestock is limited to cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and poultry.
The bureau adds that confusion is a “massive” problem at the meat counter, where meat and meat substitute products are extremely similar and sometimes indistinguishable from each other. According to a 2020 survey conducted by the bureau and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, one in five Texans are confused by misleading meat alternative product packaging.
Motivated by evidence
Texas has made a similar push to enact stricter labeling laws for meat substitutes in 2021. This year’s legislation was passed after testimony from Dustin Dean and BJ McElroy of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TCRA).
“I want to be clear that we are not opposed to the creation of new, synthetic or alternative meat substitutes,” Dean said during his testimony. “In fact, we welcome competition. What we are asking for is a level playing field in the market in terms of how these products are described to the consumers who purchase them. We want them to follow the same labeling laws that we have to follow.”
“Protecting Cattle Herders”
SB 664 was sponsored by State Senator Charles Perry and State Representative Brad Buckley.
“The passage of SB 664 represents outstanding work by elected leaders who not only care about the rights of Texas consumers, but also protect the rights of ranchers,” said TSCRA President Arthur Uhl. “These bills ensure that consumers are more aware and understand the origins and origins of their food. The beef community would like to thank Sen. Charles Perry and Rep. Brad Buckley for their leadership in passing this legislation.”