(NCBA) — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauded the introduction of the Real MEAT (Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully) Act of 2019 by U.S. Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska. The Senate bill is a companion to H.R. 4881, which was introduced by U.S. Representatives Roger Marshall (R – 1st Dist., Kansas) and Anthony Brindisi (D – 22nd Dist., N.Y.) in October.
“It’s clear that fake-meat companies are continuing to mislead consumers about the nutritional merits and actual ingredient composition of their products,” said NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “We commend the efforts of Senator Fischer on introducing this legislation, which would end deceptive labeling of fake meat products and allow cattle producers to compete on a level playing field.”
“Beef is derived from cattle — period,” Senator Fischer said. “Under USDA, beef undergoes a rigorous inspection and labeling process, but plant-based protein products that mimic beef and are sometimes labeled as beef are overseen by the FDA instead. These products are not held to the same food safety and labeling standards as beef. The NCBA has been a leader on this issue, and I am thankful for their strong support of the Real MEAT Act, which will protect consumers from deceptive marketing practices and bring transparency to the grocery store.”
Specifically, The Real MEAT Act will:
1. Codify the definition of beef for labeling purposes.
• Establish a federal definition of beef that applies to food labels.
• Preserve the Congressional Intent of the Beef Promotion and Research Act.
2. Reinforce existing misbranding provisions to eliminate consumer confusion.
• FDA has misbranding provisions for false or misleading labels.
• Prevent further consumer confusion with alternative protein products.
• Clarify the imitation nature of these alternative protein products.
3.Enhance the federal government’s ability to enforce the law.
• FDA will have to notify USDA if an imitation meat product is determined to be misbranded.
• If FDA fails to undertake enforcement within 30 days of notifying USDA, the secretary of agriculture is granted authority to seek enforcement action.