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U.S. Senator Reintroduces Real MEAT Act to Label Alternative Proteins as ‘Imitation’

Nov. 17, 2023
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) originally introduced the Real MEAT Act in 2019 to clearly differentiate alternative proteins from animal proteins on product labels.

The Real MEAT Act (“Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully”) is back, reintroduced by U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), aiming to end what the act calls deceptive labeling practices for alternative protein products. The Real MEAT Act would require alternative protein products to clearly display the word “imitation” on packaging, creating clarity for consumers and ensuring the federal government can enforce labeling standards, a release from the senator’s office said.

One version of the Real MEAT Act was originally introduced in the House of Representatives in 2019 by Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and later that year, Sen. Fischer introduced the Real MEAT Act of 2019 in the Senate. Both bills were referred to the congressional subcommittees within their branch of Congress, but neither were voted on by either the House or the Senate.

Sen. Fischer is currently a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Real MEAT Act would define “beef” as “the flesh of cattle,” and “beef product” as “edible products produced in whole or in part from beef, exclusive of milk and milk products.” Similar definitions would be spelled out for “pork” and “pork product,” while the definitions of “meat,” “meat food product,” “meat byproducts,” and “meat broker” would be based on definitions established in the code of federal regulations.

Any imitation meat, beef or pork product would be considered misbranded unless the label had the word “imitation” in the same size and prominence immediately before or after the name of the food. Labels would also include a statement clearly indicating the product was not derived from and does not contain meat.

“It’s time to end the deceptive propaganda of plant-based protein products that deliberately confuse consumers by mimicking beef and pork,” Sen. Fischer said in a statement. “My Real MEAT Act will clarify that these imitation products aren’t held to the same food safety and labeling standards as real, nutritious beef and pork. Americans deserve to know what’s on their dinner plate, and my bill will bring certainty to the supermarket and end the smear campaign against real meats.”

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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