The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has a labeling manual that runs about 40 pages. And it seems there are always petitions for labeling changes in the pipeline. The bottom line is labeling can quickly become a complicated subject.

And some try to skirt the whole need for labeling competition.

At issue now is what do do when lab-grown meat and poultry is on the market.

Florida State Rep Tyler Sirois, R-District 51, has introduced a bill to make manufacturing, selling, holding, or distributing lab-grown meat illegal.  It defines lab-grown meat as “any meat or food product produced from cultured animal cells.”

Anyone violating the ban could be fined from $500 to $1,000 as a second-degree misdemeanor. Any restaurant, grocery store, or business found in violation could face an immediate suspension or stop sale order.

Anyone involved with lab-grown meat operations must also obtain authorization from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The department is authorized to adopt rules.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and FSIS jointly regulate lab-grown meat and poultry.   The federal agencies recently gave the green light to the first lab-grown poultry sales in the U.S., but labeling issues are still to be fought out.

At the federal level, U.S. Sen. Deb Fisher, R-NE, re-introduced the Real Marketing  Edible Artificial Truthfully Act, known as the Real Meat Act. It would require labeling for  lab-grown meat and poultry to include the word “imitation.”

Sen. Fisher, R-NE, says her bill is supported by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The bill was first introduced in 2019.

Earlier this year, Texas law was changed to require specific labeling for meat alternatives, including cultivated meat products.  The Lone Star state’s run at labeling lab-grown products might be a precursor to more state legislative action in 2024.

Texas S 664, labeling of analogue and cell-cultured meat provides that a cell-cultured product must be labeled in a prominent type equal to or greater in size than the surrounding type and close to the name of the product using cell-cultured, lab-grown, or a similar qualifying term or disclaimer intended to communicate to a consumer the contents of the product.

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