Animals Need You to Comment to the USDA-FDA About Labelling

Animals need you to comment to the USDA-FDA about plant-based product labeling.

Is meat grown in a lab actually meat? Officials want to know what you think.

If meat is grown in a lab, can it be labeled as authentic meat? And if not, then what?

The Food Safety and Inspection Service is seeking your input. Comments are due to the USDA-FDA before November 2, 2021, about whether meat from “cultured animal cells” can be labeled as real meat, here:

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have teamed up to inspect whether meat from “cultured animal cells” can be labeled as real meat.

Some questions posed include:

• “Should the product name of a meat or poultry product comprised of or containing cultured animal cells differentiate the product from slaughtered meat or poultry by informing consumers the product was made using animal cell culture technology? If yes, what criteria should the agency consider or use to differentiate the products? If no, why not?”

• “What term(s), if any, should be in the product name of a food comprised of or containing cultured animal cells to convey the nature or source of the food to consumers? (e.g., “cell cultured” or “cell cultivated.”)

The production of lab-grown meat works like this: Scientists take stem cells from living animals, including livestock, poultry, or seafood, and bathe them in a “liquid containing nutrients to help them duplicate” before placing them in a device for growing organisms, according to WebMD.

Once the cells develop into “unstructured” meat, scientists find ways to make them into presentable meat products, WedMD reported.

Now you have the chance to weigh in before officials make their verdict.

“This ANPR (advance notice of proposed rulemaking) is an important step forward in ensuring the appropriate labeling of meat and poultry products made using animal cell culture technology,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, in a news release. “We want to hear from stakeholders and will consider their comments as we work on a proposed regulation for labeling these products.”

Here are a couple of responses we have submitted as a way of getting you started:

  • “We should label foods as meat whether they are from a slaughtered animal, plant-based meat, or lab-grown meat. By manufacturing cell-based meet, we can mitigate the environmental impact of our food system, decrease the risk of zoonotic disease, and ultimately feed more people with fewer resources.”
  • “To me the answer is clear: yes, of course, it is “meat,” just like Impossible or Beyond burger is meat. All refer to a product’s texture. If animal ag product companies want to suggest that calling these “meat” matters because it implies transparency in the ingredients found in the product, they had better also be prepared to include a list of the vaccines (found in 90+% of all animal ag products) and the other substances (e.g., GMOs) included in the feed fed to their animals. On that basis, consumers would be far better served by all products honestly disclosing their contents.”

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