National Farmers Union supports establishment of meat and beef labeling requirements

As new, alternative “beef” products make their way onto grocery store shelves, National Farmers Union is encouraging federal officials to establish labeling requirements that better inform consumers about the difference between beef products that come from cattle and those that were created in a laboratory.

NFU today wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service in support of a U.S. Cattlemen’s Association petition on the matter. The family farm organization opposes labeling alternative protein sources as “meat.” Delegates to NFU’s 116th Anniversary Convention in March passed a special order of business to this effect.

“NFU is concerned with the recent introduction of foods composed of alternative protein sources that are being labeled and marketed as ‘meat,’” said NFU President Roger Johnson in the letter. “NFU embraces new opportunities for family farmers and ranchers, including further development of markets for plant-based and insect-based proteins. However, we believe all food products should be clearly labeled in a manner that helps consumers make informed decisions and allows producers to differentiate their products.”

Johnson also highlighted concerns about development of alternative meat products grown in laboratories using animal cells.

“These products are not derived from animals born, raised and harvested in a traditional manner, and should not be permitted to be marketed as “meat,’” he said.

Johnson said NFU supports USCA’s request to restrict the broader definition of “meat” to the tissue or flesh of animals that have been harvested in the traditional manner.

“We support the petition’s request to define ‘beef’ as products deriving from cattle that have been born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner,” said Johnson. “We also urge consistent application of the requested definition standards across meat products, including poultry, pork and lamb.”