U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently reintroduced the Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully Act (Real MEAT Act), which would clarify the definition of beef and pork for labeling purposes by requiring alternative proteins to clearly display the word “imitation” on their packaging.

The Real MEAT Act is intended to mitigate consumer confusion about the products they purchase and enhance the federal government’s ability to enforce labeling standards. The bill would reinforce the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act’s (FFDC’s) misbranding provisions, stating that any imitation meat food product, beef or beef product, or pork or pork product is misbranded unless its label has the word “imitation” in the same size and prominence immediately before or after the name of the food. The imitation product must also include a statement clearly indicating that it is not derived from and does not contain meat.

The bill would also require the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to submit a notice, within 60 days of being made aware of a misbranded product, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary. If the HHS Secretary fails to initiate an enforcement mechanism within 30 days of sending the notice, the USDA Secretary would be able to treat the product as being misbranded.

The Real MEAT Act defines the term “beef” as "the flesh of cattle" and “beef product” as "edible products produced in whole or in part from beef," excluding milk and milk products. The term “pork” is defined as "the flesh of pigs" and “pork product” as "any food produced or processed in whole or in part from pork." The legislation defines the terms “meat,” “meat food product,” “meat byproducts,” and “meat broker” based on the definitions established in the Code of Federal Regulations.

The bill is supported by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Nebraska Cattlemen, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, and the Nebraska Farm Bureau.