February 29, 2024

Interpretive Summary: FAIR Labels Act is introduced

FAIR Labels Act is introduced

By: Sydney Sheffield 

A new bipartisan bill was introduced to increase transparency and clarify labeling requirements for plant-based and cell-cultured alternative meat products. The FAIR Labels Act was introduced by Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS), Representatives Mark Alford (R-MO), Roger Williams, (R-TX), Don Davis (D-NC), and Jonathan Jackson (D-IL). Several meat industry groups have come out in support of the act. 

“The American consumer deserves to know what they are eating and feeding their families. Whether they choose protein substitutes like plant-based or lab-grown protein or traditionally raised meat, the product should be labeled clearly,” said Representative Alford. “Farmers and ranchers across the country work from sun-up to sun-down to produce high-quality and nutritious meat for consumers. It is only fair that all products are labeled fairly. This begins with transparent and appropriate labeling laws which our legislation requires. I’m proud to introduce the FAIR Labels Act of 2024 on the federal level, especially given that Missouri was the first state to pass marketing with integrity legislation.” 

The act plans to require product labels to use terms like "imitation" or similar descriptors, along with a clear disclaimer if the product does not contain meat or poultry. It will also enhance the clarity regarding "imitation meat" and "imitation poultry" to help consumers easily identify plant-based protein products that visually resemble or are represented as meat or poultry but are derived from plant sources. 

The FAIR Labels Act provides a clear definition of cell-cultured meat and poultry products, ensuring that labels accurately reflect lab-grown food sources. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will oversee the labeling of these products, working alongside the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to maintain product inspection standards and oversee lab-grown meat and poultry, solidifying the cooperative agreement for labeling. 

“Lab-grown products are an emerging technology, and the FAIR Labels Act is an important first step for making sure consumers understand the difference between lab-grown or plant-based products and real beef raised by farmers and ranchers,” said the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Director of Animal Health and Food Safety Policy Rebecca Barnett. “NCBA thanks Sen. Marshall, Rep. Alford, Rep. Williams, Rep. Davis, and Rep. Jackson for introducing this critical legislation that ensures American consumers know where their food comes from.” 

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) supports the act and believes that consumers should have the ability to make informed decisions about the products they choose, especially protein products. “Accurate meat labeling at the grocery store benefits all consumers, regardless of dietary preferences,” said NPPC President Scott Hays. “Labeling an imitation product as pork undermines the hard work that pork producers, like me, put in every day to deliver a reliable and affordable protein source.”

Read the Fair Labels Act here