Fighting over food names, protein edition: Meat & milk
In the food and beverage industry, names matter, particularly for rules on appellations—a fancy name for, well, names. Champagne must come from Champagne. Tequila must be made from Jalisco’s blue agave. It’s no surprise that growers and producers want to protect the cachet of those names.
Now, though, there are industries fighting for simpler words, like “beef,” “meat,” and “milk.” Earlier this year, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association petitioned USDA to officially define the terms “beef” and “meat”—specifically to exclude products like the new generation plant-based meat substitutes. Companies making these new products—such as the vegan Impossible Burger—are opposed to such rules, arguing that consumers are not being fooled. This argument will be even more relevant as researchers continue to work on meat alternatives that do use animal protein, colloquially referred to as “lab-grown.” In May of this year, Missouri established a very specific definition of “meat” as being sourced from harvested livestock, a rule that would exclude both lab-grown and plant-based products, a forward-looking victory for the cattle industry.
As for milk alternatives, FDA could be moving towards a change in the policy that has until now allowed products made from soybeans, rice, coconuts, and almonds and other nutmeats to be labeled as “milk.” No policy changes have been made yet, but the current administration is likely to give a full hearing to the side of ranchers. Non-dairy milk sales have reportedly grown 61 percent since 2012, reports Mintel.
In the U.S., FDA has weighed in on the use of ingredient names like “corn sugar” and “evaporated cane juice.”
U.S. annual estimated milk production by volume
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