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USA - The Legal Definition of Meat


Jul 18, 2022

In August of 2018, Missouri became the first state in the United States to regulate the labeling of artificial meat, with a statute defining meat as something “derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” Mislabeling non-livestock or poultry-derived meats would come with a fine or even jail time. In a statement issued in November of 2018, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approached this issue, proposing that “both the USDA and the FDA should jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry.” Both of these actions are still in development. Various organizations filed a lawsuit against Missouri alleging that the law would mislead consumers and stifle competition from plant-based products. Missouri is reportedly in the process of settling this lawsuit, although “details appear scant.” The USDA and FDA, in turn, are still “actively refining the technical details of [their] framework.” This chapter will examine these legal actions in a broader food studies context. In doing so, it will explore how definitions have shaped and can continue to shape consumer expectations of what constitutes various categories of food themselves.

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