NCBA Takes Proactive Steps in Addressing Fake Meat with Outline of Recommended RegulationsWed, 11 Apr 2018 10:14:06 CDT
This week, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted official comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlining key principles for the regulation of fake meat products. The comments, filed in response to Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Petition Number 18-01, encourage USDA to look beyond modifying “standards of identity” in order to provide adequate protection for beef producers and consumers.
“It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” said Kevin Kester, President of NCBA. “As long as we have a level playing field, our product will continue to be a leading protein choice for families in the United States and around the world.”
NCBA’s regulatory principles are designed to effectively address both plant-based and lab-grown imitation beef products. Earlier this week, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays had the chance to speak with Danielle Beck of the NCBA’s DC office about the comments submitted by the organization, which she says has been done in an effort to be proactive in dealing with government regulators on the subject and that it is all about truth in labelling.
“While there are a few different asks in our comments, really we just want imitation products to be labeled in a way that clearly states they’re alternatives; they’re not real beef products. We have no problem with a black bean burger because it says it’s a ‘black bean burger,’” Beck said. “The new companies we’re seeing and the new products that have started to enter the market - they’re really inching closer to that line of being misbranded and to misleading the consumer.
“It’s also really important that these products adhere to the same set of stringent food safety standards as traditional meat and beef products,” she added.
1) Requests that USDA work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “take appropriate, immediate enforcement action against improperly-labeled imitation products."
NCBA firmly believes the term beef should only be applicable to products derived from actual livestock raised by farmers and ranchers. For misbranded and mislabeled plant-based protein products, existing legislation gives FDA the authority to take enforcement actions. However, the agency has a history of failing to enforce labeling laws. Rather than expending time and resources to develop a standard of identity the FDA will blatantly ignore, NCBA requests USDA engage with FDA to facilitate immediate, appropriate enforcement actions against imitation meat product labels that clearly violate existing laws.
2) Urges USDA to “assert jurisdiction over foods consisting of, isolated from or produced from cell culture or tissue culture derived from livestock and poultry animals or their parts.”
NCBA believes that USDA-FSIS is the agency best placed to regulate emerging lab-grown meat products. First, USDA-FSIS possesses the technical expertise and regulatory infrastructure to ensure perishable meat food products are safe for U.S. consumers. Lab-grown meat must comply with the same stringent food safety inspection standards as all other meat products.
Second, USDA-FSIS labeling standards provided greater protection against false and misleading marketing claims. Unlike the FDA, USDA-FSIS requires pre-approval of all labels before products hit the marketplace. This will ensure consistent labeling practices across all products, and prevent misleading marketing labels such as “clean meat.”
Listen to Danielle Beck and Ron Hays discuss NCBA’s concerns further when it comes to alternative meat products that are now entering the market, on today’s Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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