Texas – America’s largest cattle-producing state – has passed State Bill 664, which will require meat alternatives to be labeled with qualifying terms such as “analogue, meatless, plant-based, made from plants” or “cell-cultured”, “lab-grown”, or similar language. According to the bill’s authors and proponents, SB 664 aims to prevent plant-based and cultivated meat companies from making misleading claims about their products and deceiving consumers.
On May 2, the bill passed the Texas state legislature and has been sent to Governor Greg Abbot for his signature.
“These bills ensure consumers are more informed and understand the source and origin of their food”
According to the Texas Farm Bureau, which supported the measure, the bill defines meat as “any edible portion of a livestock carcass that does not contain lab-grown, cell cultured, insect or plant-based food products.” The definition of livestock is limited to cattle, sheep, swine, goats and poultry.
The Bureau adds that confusion at the meat counter is an “abundant” problem, where meat and meat alternative products are highly similar and sometimes indistinguishable from one another. According to a 2020 survey conducted by the Bureau and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, one out of every five Texans are confused by misleading meat substitute product packaging.
Spurred by testimony
Texas made a similar push to enact stricter labeling laws for meat alternatives in 2021. The passage of this year’s legislation comes after testimony from Dustin Dean and BJ McElroy of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TCRA.)
“I want to be clear that we do not oppose the creation of new, synthetic or alternate meat substitutes,” Dean said during his testimony. “In fact, we welcome the competition. All we’re asking for is a level playing field out there in the marketplace on how these products are described to the customers that are purchasing them. We want them to follow the same labeling laws that we have to follow.”
“Protecting cattle raisers”
SB 664 was sponsored by State Senator Charles Perry and State Representative Brad Buckley.
“The passage of SB 664 represents the outstanding work of elected leaders who not only care about Texas consumer rights, but also protecting the rights of cattle raisers,” said TSCRA president Arthur Uhl. “These bills ensure consumers are more informed and understand the source and origin of their food. The beef community would like to thank Sen. Charles Perry and Rep. Brad Buckley for their leadership in passing this legislation.”