Sen. Marshall and Rep. Alford introduce legislation to ensure fair labels on imitation meat

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D., and Representative Mark Alford (R-MO) introduced the Fair and Accurate Ingredient Representation on Labels Act of 2024. The FAIR Labels Act, new bipartisan, bicameral legislation, aims to boost transparency and clarify labeling requirements for plant-protein and cell-cultured protein products so consumers have the full picture when buying groceries for themselves and their families. This bill is co-sponsored by: Representatives Don Davis, Roger Williams, and Jonathan Jackson.

“Consumers deserve to be able to easily understand what products they are putting in their grocery cart,” said Senator Marshall. “It’s pretty simple: if food is represented as meat or poultry but is either lab-grown or made from a plant protein, it should be prominently displayed on the label. Distinguishing between a ‘black bean burger’ and an actual beef burger shouldn’t be hard. But, as other meat alternatives with misleading names continue to appear on shelves, we need to do more to ensure the transparency of imitation meats versus the real farm-raised meats.”

“The American consumer deserves to know what they are eating and feeding their families. Whether they choose protein substitutes like plant-based or lab-grown protein or traditionally raised meat, the product should be labeled clearly. Farmers and ranchers across the country work from sunup to sundown to produce high-quality and nutritious meat for consumers,” said Rep Mark Alford. “It is only fair that all products are labeled fairly. This begins with transparent and appropriate labeling laws which our legislation requires. I’m proud to introduce the FAIR Labels Act of 2024 on the federal level, especially given that Missouri was the first state to pass marketing with integrity legislation.”

“When going to the grocery store, Americans expect food labels to state what they are buying clearly,” said Rep Don Davis. “It is important we continue to have that consistency in packaging for meat products. The bipartisan Fair Labels Act ensures Americans have choices at the grocery store while promoting consumer education on the products they consume.”

“We are a country of competition, and the federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Requiring accurate and honest labeling of lab grown and cell cultured products will create a level playing field and support the free market in the agriculture industry,” said Rep. Roger Williams. “I am proud to lead this effort alongside my colleague Mark Alford to ensure that as the imitation and lab grown product industry grows, they are held to the same standards as traditional meat products. We cannot allow the American people and our ranching and farming communities to be taken advantage of by those who wish to manipulate them through misleading labeling. “

“I’m glad to work with my friend Rep. Alford on this important legislation. Clarifying federal labeling requirements will boost consumer transparency in the market, allowing these industries to thrive,” said Rep. Jonathan Jackson. “I look forward to working with Rep. Alford and my colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee to include these provisions in the Farm Bill reauthorization.”

“America’s farmers and ranchers work hard every day to bring a high-quality, wholesome product to market. We’re not afraid of a little competition, but it is unfair for lab grown or plant-based fake meat products to trade on beef’s good name,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Todd Wilkinson, a South Dakota cattle producer. “This bill is especially important for ensuring that consumers recognize lab grown products that may be coming to market in the future. Consumers deserve to know how their food is made and to understand that lab-grown products made in a bioreactor are not the same as the high-quality beef raised by farmers and ranchers.”

“While NCC recognizes consumers have a variety of dietary preferences and support individual choice, we advocate that imitation alternatives be accurately labeled in a way that clearly explains what they are and how they were made,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown. “According to consumer research, one in five Americans have reported accidentally purchasing a plant-based product, believing it to be real chicken. As such, we’re pleased to support legislation like the FAIR Labels Act that would clarify labeling requirements for these imitation products.”

“Accurate meat labeling at the grocery store benefits all consumers, regardless of dietary preferences. Labeling an imitation product as pork undermines the hard work that pork producers, like me, put in every day to deliver a reliable and affordable protein source,” said National Pork Producers Council President Scott Hays. “Thanks to Congressmen Alford, Davis, Jackson, and Williams - as well as Senator Marshall - for recognizing this need and taking a forward thinking, bipartisan approach.”

“ASI is pleased to support this legislation as it addresses a critical need to accurately update labels to the protein choices consumers have today,” said American Sheep industry (ASI) Executive Director Peter Orwick.

“Clarity and consumer confidence in ingredients and labeling must always be upheld. Disclosing science-based and accurate information on food labels and consistent regulatory enforcement by federal agencies is critical to maintaining the integrity of all agricultural products in the marketplace. NASDA is supportive of the FAIR Labels Act – which seeks to enforce those principles and ensure consumers can make informed purchasing decisions,” said Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). “We thank this bipartisan group of Members for putting forth this legislation and stand ready to work collaboratively with Congress and federal agencies on cell-based and imitation meat labeling requirements to ensure shoppers have confidence in what they buy at the grocery store.”