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Texas House OK’s bill to ban plant-based foods from using ‘meat’ and ‘beef’ on labels

Texas House OK’s bill to ban plant-based foods from using ‘meat’ and ‘beef’ on labels

May 10, 2021
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AUSTIN — Plant-based and other meatless products could be accused of misleading consumers under a bill approved in the Texas House on Monday. Texas is the latest state to debate measures that would prohibit foods that don’t contain animal products from using words like “meat” or “beef” in their […]

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AUSTIN — Plant-based and other meatless products could be accused of misleading consumers under a bill approved in the Texas House on Monday.

a close up of a sandwich sitting on top of a table: The Beyond Meat vegan burger is one of two new vegan items at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Under a bill passed in the Texas House on Monday, companies that offer plant-based or other meat substitute products could be accused of misleading consumers if they use the terms

Texas is the latest state to debate measures that would prohibit foods that don’t contain animal products from using words like “meat” or “beef” in their name. The bill, which was approved after a brief but divisive debate, needs one more vote in the House to advance to the Texas Senate.

Rep. Brad Buckley said his bill would protect consumers, including vegetarians and vegans, from buying something by mistake.

“This is for those who choose to eat meat, but it’s also for those who choose to not eat meat,” said Buckley, a Killeen Republican who also helps run a small cattle operation, according to The Austin-American Statesman.

House Bill 316 would prohibit products derived from insects, plants or cell cultures — which come from in vitro animal cells harvested in the lab and not slaughtered animals — from using the terms “meat,” “pork,” “poultry product” and “beef” in their names. Using these words could result in a company being accused of misleading consumers.

The bill would not bar these products from using broader terms, like “burger.”

Bills like these have cropped up in several states as products like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers have gained in popularity. Many of those that have become law have been attacked in the courts for violating the free speech rights of the company.

Figures in the livestock industry, including the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Poultry Federation and Texas Pork Producers Association, support the House bill. It’s opposed by Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger and related organizations like the Plant Based Foods Association and Alliance for Plant Based Inclusion.

Those who raised questions about the legislation during debate Monday came from opposite sides of the political divide.

Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat from Houston, said he worried the bill would open the state up to unnecessary litigation. Fredericksburg’s Kyle Biedermann, a far-right Republican, said he was in favor of the bill but worried it represented governmental overreach on private business.

“There shouldn’t be a need to have to legislate more regulation of these other companies when it seems their packaging is pretty clear,” Biedermann said.

“Our goal here today with this bill is to have clear and accurate labeling so the consumer has no doubt what they’re purchasing,” Buckley responded. “The most frequent call I’ve gotten is from vegetarians that are for this bill.”

He added, “it is not anti-plant based, anti-cell culture.”

The bill will likely be brought up for debate again Tuesday.

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