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General Assembly: Missouri meat must meet meat definition

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri General Assembly has voted to require products labeled as “meat” actually meet the definition of meat.

The provision was part of Sen. Brian Munzlinger’s SB 627, an omnibus agriculture bill that was approved of by the House with a 125-22 vote. It passed out of the Senate in March and needs Gov. Eric Greitens signature to become law.

Missouri statute defines meat as “any edible portion of livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof.” By that definition, supporters argued, plant-based products and laboratory-grown food products would be excluded from being labeled as meat.

The legislation would make clear in statute that if a product isn’t derived from an animal — such as cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, and other two- and four-legged critters — it can’t be labeled and marketed as “meat.”

There was some opposition to the provision, with questions on free speech relating to advertising being raised and, since Missouri will be the first to implement such a requirement, products would need a specific label for the Show-Me State.

“We need to embrace the future,” said Rep. Deb Lavender. “There are many people who are eating differently than they used to.”

Rep. Tracy McCreery said she found the provision “a little bit disrespectful of consumers” and claimed supporters are “just trying to protect your marketing money.”

“We’re not trying to mislead anyone. We’re just trying to protect our product,” said Rep. Jeff Knight.

Supporters argued that this provision will protect the integrity of the products by prohibiting plant-based products and laboratory-grown meat from being sold as “meat.”

“This legislation does not stifle technology, but it does ensure the integrity of our meat supply and reduces consumer confusion. We must ensure that those products do not mislead consumers into thinking those products are actually meat produced by farm and ranch families,” said Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Mike Deering. “The use of traditional nomenclature on alternative products is confusing to consumers and weakens the value of products derived from actual livestock production.