Montana becomes the third state to pass legislation to prohibit food products produced from cultured cells from being labeled the same as steaks and hamburger items from livestock and poultry.
Rep. Alan Redfield’s (R-Livingston) Real Meat Act has passed both Montana’s House and Senate, and now awaits Gov. Steven Bullock’s signature.
Redfield says he wants Montana consumers to know what they’re buying and where it came from. His bill, dubbed the Real Meat Act, doesn’t ban the sale of cell-cultured products, but requires that products labeled as “meat” must be “derived from the edible flesh of livestock or a livestock product.”
The bill does not focus on vegetarian meat alternatives, such as Gardenburger veggie burgers or Beyond Meat plant-based meat substitutes, Redfield said.
Missouri was the first state to pass legislation similar to Redfield’s bill, and that state is now facing a lawsuit claiming its law is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment right to free speech.
On March 18, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed legislation that requires “fake meat” products to be correctly labeled, hoping to reduce the impact of lab-cultured products on the local meat market. A product is misbranded if it intentionally labels products in a false, deceptive or misleading manner that misrepresents it as meat or a meat byproduct, the South Dakota law states.
Similar labeling bills are under consideration by state legislatures in Wyoming, Indiana, Nebraska, Virginia and Tennessee.
Several people spoke in support of Redfield’s bill, including Cindy Palmer, with the Montana Farmers Union, who said the argument comes down to “basic honesty for the consumer. They can call it healthy protein, they can call it lots of glamour things. They just can’t call it meat.”
Opposing the bill was Zuri Moreno, with the ACLU of Montana. Moreno said commercial speech is protected by the First Amendment and called the bill an “unconstitutional solution in search of a problem.”