Fortin: Proposed Michigan Bill Does not Mean that Lab Grown Meat Cannot be Labeled as “Meat”

Neal Fortin's take on how lab grown meat may be labeled.

Image captured of Neal Fortin speaking on television.

Neal Fortin is Director of MSU’s Institute for Food Laws and Regulations. Learn more online with his course Food Laws and Regulations in the United States, an online graduate course designed for food industry professionals.

Lab grown beef is set to hit stores in the near future and a new bill proposed in the Michigan legislature seeks to prevent producers from labeling their lab-based product as “meat.” Neal Fortin, Director of MSU’s Institute for Food Laws and Regulations, was interviewed on Lansing’s NBC-affiliated WLIX for his take on the likely success of this bill.

Fortin says our cultural perception of what the word “meat” means is not as constrained as you might think. He reminds us that “meat has long term use for other things besides just muscle tissue from animals,” such as “nut meat” and “coconut meat.”

Fortin believes that producers of lab grown meat will likely use product labeling to highlight the fact that their meat is produced in a lab. “They want to market it as being different. They don’t want to market is as being traditional, slaughtered meat.”

The proposed Michigan law does not designate a name for these new products. If legislators wish to influence how lab grown meat is to be labeled, they need to do it soon, because once the product hits the market and a cultural understanding is formed, it will be hard to change how consumers perceive and refer to the product, regardless of legislation that comes later.

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