June 30, 2022

Kansas’ fake meat law to go into effect July 1st

Kansas’ fake meat law to go into effect July 1st 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

A new law has been signed by the Governor of the state of Kansas to require producers of fake meat products that use meat terms to include a disclaimer indicating the product does not contain meat on the label in prominent and conspicuous font size in close proximity to the meat term. The Fake Meat Labeling bill will go into effect on July 1, 2022. The Kansas House voted 96-26 with bipartisan support and opposition. 

"Consumers rely on the names and product packaging when they purchase food," said Representative Sydney Carlin, (D-Manhattan). "What we're trying to do with this bill is to clarify that there is no meat in a product that is meatless." Likewise, Representative Lisa Moser, (R-Wheaton), who is a fourth-generation farmer and rancher said, "It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Although they can try to imitate the meat industry's protein-packed and delicious industry products, fake meat will never pass the taste test.” 

The Fake Meat Labeling bill becomes law in a timely manner, as researchers at Kansas State University have found consumers overwhelmingly chose ground beef over plant-based beef alternatives in a multifaceted study. Three fat variations of ground beef were offered to compare to the plant-based alternatives. Consumers rated the plant-based alternatives as “extremely dry,” and rated those products “very low” for flavor. In one test, only 18% of the consumers said they would be willing to buy the plant-based ground beef alternative. 

“The results are pretty stark,” Kansas State meat scientist Travis O’Quinn said. “Our three ground beef products were highly desired by consumers. We didn’t witness many differences among the three fat levels we offered, but when we compared those to the ground beef alternatives, every one of the alternatives had a tendency to fall out (of favorability with consumers).”

The study also found that the plant-based ground beef alternatives were more tender than regular ground beef. However, with ground products, that’s not necessarily a good thing. The tenderness made the products softer and less likely to hold together. Ground beef’s ability to stick together provides a texture that was more preferred by consumers. Additionally, while ground beef patties tend to shrink when cooked, the plant-based alternatives stayed the same size, and in some cases even got somewhat bigger.

“These ground beef alternatives are very different than ground beef,” O’Quinn said. “There’s nothing we can measure that puts it on the same level playing field with ground beef, not how they’re cooked, looked, or taste.”