Notice: Beef with misleading labeling
The word beef represents a brand that has been cultivated through generations of innovation, animal welfare, and environmental conservation by farmers and ranchers across the United States. Over the years, high quality beef has captured consumer demand and established a base of consumer confidence. As an increasing number of protein products are introduced to the market, it is essential to ensure that new products do not belittle the positive reputation of real beef products with false claims, and perhaps more importantly. still, these products do not confuse consumers. in an attempt to get on the ox’s reputable tails.
One product that has certainly made a splash in the mainstream media is the cell culture protein or, as we prefer to call it, the lab grown protein. Although foods produced using this technology are not yet commercially available in the United States, the NCBA has proactively engaged with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure proper labeling of these products.
As the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) works to develop labeling and regulatory oversight standards for laboratory-grown protein products, the NCBA remains committed to ensuring a level playing field for the sale of beef.
Letâs be clear, cattle producers are not afraid of competition, but competition in the marketplace has to be fair. Alternative protein companies should not be allowed to mislead consumers with deceptive marketing practices. The NCBA believes that consumers have a right to expect true and accurate food labels. Therefore, the term âbeefâ should only apply to products derived from livestock raised by farmers and ranchers.
And it’s not just the beef industry that believes in the importance of accurate labeling, a consumer study conducted by the NCBA found that 74% of consumers agree there should be a definitive indication on if they buy lab-grown products or conventionally produced meat.
The novelty of this technology means there is a demonstrated lack of consumer understanding. NCBA research found that only 13% of participants were generally aware of protein products grown in the lab, and even fewer respondents could define them precisely. As lab-grown proteins seek to enter the U.S. market, the NCBA believes USDA surveillance will play a critical role in keeping a level playing field for all products. We believe the agency needs to take a multitude of factors into consideration and should ultimately develop new standards of identity and labeling parameters that not only appropriately differentiate these products, but ensure that they are truthfully marketed. and not misleading.
To that end, in our comments to the recent USDA advance notice of regulatory proposal, the NCBA recommended âlab grownâ as the explicit description of these products. Unlike commonly used terms, such as “grown”, “clean” or “cultivated,” our research shows that “lab grown” is the best term to differentiate these products from real beef, as it provides consumers with the understanding the clearest. of the products they buy.
Our top priority is to work with the FDA and USDA to ensure that the regulations governing these products are science-based, prioritize food safety appropriately, and promote honesty and fairness for the benefit of consumers. . Farmers and ranchers across the country take pride in sustainably producing healthy, affordable and nutritious beef. After all, beef was, and always will be, what’s for dinner!
Ethan Lane heads the NCBA’s Washington office as vice president of government affairs. He is a fifth generation Arizona with over two decades of experience in natural resources, land use issues and advocacy on behalf of the beef industry. Prior to taking up his current position, he was Executive Director of the Public Lands Council.
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