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1,179 comments on how to label "meat"

Jun 3, 2022
Illustration of a burger stacked high with money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The USDA received more than 1,179 comments on how to label meat that's grown from cells, pitting traditional trade groups against venture-backed startups.

Why it matters: For the startups developing these more environmentally friendly proteins — and the VCs who have poured more than $2 billion into the efforts — the stakes couldn't be higher when it comes to what you can technically call this stuff.

Zoom in: For consumers, and investors, there's a visceral difference between seeing "lab-grown meat," "cultivated meat" and — woof — "manufactured animal tissue" in the aisles of your local grocery store.

  • Cell-grown protein is not to be confused with plant-based protein made by such companies as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

What's happening: The USDA in September issued a request for comments on labeling. The agency is jointly regulating grown meats with the FDA.

  • The folks over at Food Dive sifted through the comments this week.
  • Traditional meat trade groups want stricter labeling, barring "poultry," for example, to describe said products grown from cells.
  • Startups like Upside Meats, which in April announced a $400m funding, prefer "cultivated meats."

👀 Of note: There was this submission from California's Department of Food and Agriculture — the home state to a number of prominent lab-grown meat startups:

  • “Terms such as ‘Artificially Grown Animal Tissues,’ ‘Artificially Produced,’ ‘Manufactured Animal Tissue,’ ‘Man-Made,’ or similar statements that are truthful and factual to the nature or source of the product should be included in the product name,” the agency wrote.

Meanwhile: The FDA is expected to soon issue new labeling rules for non-dairy milks.

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