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Missouri Considers Nation's First Label for Plant-Based Meat

Kristofor Husted

  Companies that produce plant-based meat substitutes or lab-grown products would be required to clearly note that their products do not contain meat under a bill approved by the Missouri House.

The bill was approved 107-38 by the House on Thursday and now goes to the Senate for consideration. If it's approved, Missouri would be the first state in the country to address the issue, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .

The proposal, part of an omnibus pro-agriculture bill, is supported by the state's pork producers, the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen's Association. They contend the state's livestock industry has spent considerable time and money educating consumers about the benefits of eating meat. The proposal seeks to ensure that consumers don't, for example, mistake a plant-based product such as meat-like tenders for real chicken.

In testimony during legislative hearings, Missouri Cattlemen's Association member Andy McCorkill said the legislation "ensures the integrity of the meat supply" in Missouri.

"Calling (plant-based products) meat without knowing the inspection process, the nutrient profile of these products, food safety or anything is a disservice to farmers, ranchers and consumers. It is important these products don't misrepresent our industry," said McCorkill. "We care for our livestock and invest a lot of time and money in ensuring the consumer has a safe, nutritious and affordable product."

Companies that produce vegetarian-based meat-like products are already prohibited by federal law from misrepresenting their products, said Jessica Almy of the Good Food Institute, which promotes plant-based alternatives to meat.

Almy said in a statement that producers have a right to free speech to describe their products in a clear manner consistent with consumer expectations.

"A phrase like 'plant-based meat' clearly communicates that a food is plant-based and how a food is meant to be prepared and consumed," she said. "Second, creating a Missouri-specific prohibition would create an untenable situation where products sold in Missouri must be labeled differently from products sold in all 49 other states."

Lawmakers are working under a May 18 deadline to move legislation to the governor's desk.