‘Proposed Bill Wants All Plant-Based Beef Labeled ‘Imitation’’

Jenny G. Zhang for Eater:

A new bipartisan bill requiring beef that’s not derived from cows (i.e., plant-based beef like Impossible Burgers) to be labeled “imitation” was proposed in Congress on Monday, Food Dive reports. The legislation, called the Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully Act (or the Real MEAT Act), was introduced by Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat whose district covers a rural part of New York, and Rep. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas.


The proposed bill, as currently written, suggests that slapping a prominent “imitation” label on plant-based beef would prevent “confusion” and “ensure that consumers can make informed decisions in choosing between meat products such as beef and imitation meat products.” Brindisi, in a statement by the United States Cattlemen’s Association obtained by Food Dive, emphasized this line of thinking: “American families have a right to know what’s in their food … Accurate labeling helps consumers make informed decisions and helps ensure families have access to a safe, abundant, affordable food supply.”

However, there’s little evidence that consumers are actually confused about the difference between plant-based and animal-based meat. In the dairy world, where the use of the word “milk” has similarly been a source of contention, the majority of consumers know that plant-based milk doesn’t contain dairy, per a survey from the International Food Information Council.

I think honesty is a good practice if there is confusion, but I don’t think anyone is confused by plant-based products.

If we’re open to discussing clear labeling, meat could be better too. I’d love to see meats labeled about their: antibiotics the animal received, square-footage allotted to each animal in their lifetime, percentage of time spent outside per day, whether the animal was at any point maimed without anesthesia, and if this product contains fecal matter. It’d also be nice to see a reversal on the ag-gag laws that were passed to ban videos from being recorded in slaughterhouses. Is that not the kind of honesty they like?