Bipartisan but Rancher-Partisan Bill Would Ban Cultured Meat From School Lunch Programs

Jan. 29, 2024
U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) want to ban cultivated meat products in federally subsidized school lunches.

U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) on Jan. 26 introduced legislation that would ban cultivated meat products from being served in federally subsidized school lunches. The School Lunch Integrity Act of 2024 would prohibit the use of cell-cultured meats under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP).

Rounds’ announcement repeatedly referred to the products as “fake meat” and noted they’re being developed with the intention of eliminating the need to raise livestock – which ought to worry voters in the senators’ home states of South Dakota and Montana. “Our students should not be test subjects for cell-cultivated ‘meat’ experiments,” said Rounds.

“With the support of environmental activists, dozens of companies across the United States have started to research and produce cell cultivated protein,” Rounds’ note said. “Last summer, [USDA] moved to issue grants of inspection for cell-cultured meat production, allowing for two companies to produce cell-cultivated chicken products. These recent actions undermine the important work of American livestock producers.”

This legislation is endorsed by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, R-CALF USA, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and South Dakota Pork Producers.

Similar efforts are afoot. In January, two bills entered the Arizona statehouse, one prohibiting the use of the terms “beef” or “meat” to describe cultivated and plant-based products but not a ban on sales, the other was a ban on all sales, including wording that would help ranchers sue for damages. Similar bills were introduced last year in Florida and Texas.


About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.