While lawyers continue talking in Missouri, lawmakers in at least three more states have passed bills to legally prohibit “mislabeling” of food products derived from animal cultures, plants or insects as meat.

Mississippi Gov, Phil Bryant, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, both Republicans, have already signed bills overwhelming passed by their Legislatures, into law. In Montana, the “Real Meat Act” is awaiting Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s signature.

Other bills limiting what can be labeled as meat are under consideration in
Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

Missouri was the first state to prohibit plant and lab-grown alternatives from labeling those products as meat. The cell-cultured industry immediately took Missouri to court in a case known as Turtle Island Foods v. Missouri.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S.District Court for Western Missouri, was expected to be a battle royal, but ACLU attorney Anthony E. Rothert and Deputy Missouri Solicitor General Julie Marie Blake announced two months ago that they’d reached a settlement.

On April 1, Rothert and Blake again told federal Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr. that they have a “tentative settlement” in Turtle Foods V. Missouri, but they still need more time. “The parties are working diligently to execute a final settlement agreement, however, more time is needed to (1) continue to work on the proposed language, and (2) get formal approval from all necessary government officials,” their status report to judge says.

Judge Gaitan gave the parties until May 1, 2019, as a new deadline.

Montana’s Real Meat Act was sponsored by Rep. Alan Redfield, R-Livingston. He said Montana have a right to know that they are buying and where it came from. The Real Meat Act does not ban the sale of cell-cultured products but prohibits them from being labeled as meat.

The Montana Real Meat Act also does not focus on the veggie burgers or plant-based alternatives like Beyond Meat. Meat is defined as that which is derived from the edible flesh of livestock or livestock product.

“Cell-cultured edible product,” the Montana bill says, “is derived from muscle cells, fat cells, connective tissues, blood and other components produced via cell culture rather than from a whole slaughtered animal. Such a product must contain labeling indicating it is derived from those cells, tissues, blood or components.”

Further, it says that hamburger or ground beef means ground flesh or frozen beef, or a combination of both, with or without the addition of suet, to which no water, binders, or extenders are added. Hamburger and ground beef are terms that do not include cell-cultured edible products, according to the Montana bill.

Montana’s livestock herds account for about one-third of it’s total agricultural GNP.

The new South Dakota law prohibits “fake meat” from being misbranded or intentionally mislabeled. False, deceptive and misleading labeling is prohibited.

Likewise, the new labeling law that passed the Mississippi Legislature unanimously says food products that contain cultured animal tissue produced from cell cultures outside of the organism from which it is derived shall not be labeled as meat or a meat food product.

Further plant-based, insect-based food products also cannot be labeled as meat or meat food products for related purposes.

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