Another piece of legislation aiming to restrict cell-based meat in the U.S. has been introduced—and at the federal level this time, following state bills proposed in Florida and Arizona. The School Lunch Integrity Act of 2024, sponsored by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Jon Tester (D-MT), would ban cell-cultivated meat from use in school meals.

Specifically, the legislation would amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to prohibit the use of cell-based meat under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the School Breakfast Program (SBP). The bill has been read and was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Senator Rounds’ office pointed to a “lack of demonstrated research on cell-cultivated protein” as indicative of questionable food safety, stating that schools should purchase real beef from local ranchers instead. Senator Rounds also mentioned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—which, in 2019, opened a path to regulating cell-based meat by entering an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—has not yet provided guidance on cultivated meat in the NSLP or SBP.

Cell-based meat is closer than ever to entering the market, with two companies given the green light by USDA and FDA in 2023 to produce and sell cultivated chicken products.