Government Restrictions On Labeling Products as ‘Meat’ Aren’t Likely to Help Anyone

Substitutes for traditional meat products have captured the attention of investors, the media and consumers. Plant-based meat options are showing up in grocery stores and on the menus at fast food chains like Burger King and restaurants like TGI Fridays.

These products are not necessarily targeted at vegans or vegetarians, who comprise around 2% of the U.S. population over age 17. Meat, on the other hand, is a well-established market. In 2018 Americans consumed 57.2 pounds of beef, 92.4 pounds of chicken and 50.9 pounds of pork per capita.

Nonetheless, the meat industry is defending its turf – including in the grocery store. Missouri passed a law in 2018 restricting use of the word “meat” to animal-based proteins, and now more than 20 other states are considering or have enacted similar legislationCountersuits have been filed, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is assessing whether the federal government should clarify differences between traditional and nontraditional meat.

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