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Meat consumption is rising around the globe, but there’s a food fight brewing between the test tube and the barnyard. The so-called “fake meat” is produced by growing and multiplying cells in a lab to mimic the texture and flavor of real meat. Livestock producers don’t want it marketed as something that it’s not.
Jennifer Houston is the president-elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. She says they’re not against the product; they’re always for technology and innovation. However, Houston says they feel very strongly that cell-cultured meat products should be held to the same standards as livestock and poultry.
"Our products have continuous daily inspection, and we feel that this new product should too," says Houston. "We don’t know a lot about the process because it’s very proprietary. But, however it is, to ensure consumer safety, we think that they need to be under FSIS, to have an inspector there every day."
Houston also wants to see truth-in-labeling.
"For current beef products, everything that we put on a label has to be proven scientifically. We think again, they need to be held to the same standards. Claims like we’ve heard, clean meat. Some of them are backing away from it but some of them are not. Or, more sustainable or more humane," she says. "Whatever the claims that they make, they have to be backed up."
The USDA and FDA have agreed that both agencies will ride herd on lab-grown meat. The FDA will oversee cell collection, growth and differentiation. The USDA will keep an eye on production and labeling of these food products.Learn more about the beef industry and fake meat