U.S – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has reintroduced the Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully Act (Real MEAT Act).

The proposed legislation seeks to bring clarity to the definition of beef and pork for labeling purposes, addressing the growing market of alternative proteins.

The act would mandate that alternative protein products clearly display the word “imitation” on their packaging to reduce consumer confusion and enhance the enforcement of labeling standards.

The primary objective of the Real MEAT Act is to alleviate consumer confusion surrounding meat products, especially as alternative protein options gain popularity.

The bill aims to fortify misbranding provisions under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDC), asserting that any imitation meat product, beef, or pork must be labeled with the word “imitation” in the same size and prominence immediately before or after the food’s name.

Additionally, the packaging must include a statement explicitly indicating that the product is not derived from and does not contain meat.

The proposed legislation outlines a collaborative approach between the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary in addressing misbranded products.

If the HHS Secretary identifies a misbranded product, they are required to submit a notice to the USDA Secretary within 60 days. If the HHS Secretary fails to initiate enforcement within 30 days of sending the notice, the USDA Secretary gains the authority to treat the product as misbranded.

Defining “beef” and “pork”

The Real MEAT Act provides clear definitions for key terms. “Beef” is defined as “the flesh of cattle,” and “beef product” encompasses “edible products produced in whole or in part from beef,” excluding milk and milk products.

Similarly, “pork” is defined as “the flesh of pigs,” and “pork product” covers “any food produced or processed in whole or in part from pork.”

The legislation aligns the definitions of “meat,” “meat food product,” “meat byproducts,” and “meat broker” with those established in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Industry support for clarity

The Real MEAT Act has garnered support from key industry stakeholders, including the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Nebraska Cattlemen, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, and the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

The backing of these organizations underscores the importance of clear labeling in maintaining transparency and consumer trust in the meat market.

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