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Clean meat definition top of US beef producer priorities

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The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) has petitioned the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to “exclude products not derived directly from animals raised and slaughtered from the definition of ‘beef’ and ‘meat’”​.

In its petition to FSIS, the USCA said it had “long advocated for additional beef labelling requirements to better inform consumers” ​and pointed out: “There are currently no labelling requirements applicable to products labelled as ‘beef’ or more broadly as ‘meat’ mandated by law.”

It said: “USCA has learned that some major US meatpackers and companies in other countries are investing heavily in creating alternative products that may resemble in appearance and taste beef products, including synthetic ‘beef’ and ‘beef’ grown in laboratories using animal cells, known as ‘in vitro’ meat, ‘bio meat’, ‘clean meat’ or ‘cultured meat’. Such products, which are not derived from animals born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, should not be permitted to be marketed as ‘beef’, or more broadly as ‘meat’ products.”

USCA requested that FSIS limit the definition of beef to products from cattle born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner and it should require that any product labelled as “beef” come from cattle that have been born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner, rather than coming from alternative sources, such as a synthetic product from plant, insects or other non-animal components and any product grown in labs from animal cells.

It argued that current labelling practices may cause consumer confusion in the marketplace.

A FSIS spokesperson said it will “review the petition which was submitted by the USCA and that the Agency will respond accordingly once all information has been reviewed”​.

Fellow trade body the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has made the “protection of our industry and consumers from fake meat and misleading labels​” one of its priorities for 2018.

Other 2018 policy priorities from the NCBA included the protection of market access under the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Korea-US Trade Agreement; the securing of Animal Drug User Free Act reauthorisation; a permanent solution to electronic logging devices; and full funding for a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank.

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