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USDA, FDA Team Up to Hear Comments About What Can Be Called ‘Meat’

When you’re in the meat aisle looking for a steak or burger, the last thing you’d expect to find would be something manufactured in a lab using potatoes or wheat and a few animal molecules. Or, at the very least, if there were something in there looking like a bloody steak but was actually nothing more than a processed food with fake dyes and flavorings made to resemble a real steak, you’d expect the package to say that’s what it is.

In fact, Food Safety News reports that consumers have told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in no uncertain terms that they expect to see the words “lab-grown” prominently on the labels of fake meat products. However, fake “meat” manufacturers don’t want to have to tell you that.

Instead, they like the name “clean meat” — and because there’s still a question about whether they should be required by law to call their product what it is, the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have teamed up to hold two days of public hearings October 23 and 24 so consumers’ opinions can be heard on this issue. If you want to go, register now through October 19.

In the real world of real foods, you wouldn’t think that a conversation like this would even be happening. After all, there are processed foods that come out of factory production lines full of sugars and grains and a litany of substances you can’t pronounce, and then there are real foods — foods that are just what they are: chicken, beef, pork and so on. You get the idea — even if they’re meats from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that have been fattened up with growth hormones, they’re still “real” meats in that they’ve come from real, living, breathing animals.

You would think there wouldn’t be any blurring of definitions on this, but as the FDA and USDA have already found out, the controversy is real and the makers of fake meat like the Impossible Burger — made from soy, wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and plant-based heme made from genetically-engineered yeast — want their product labeled as “meat” so they can take a place right there in the grocery store aisle alongside the real thing.

Of course, when you understand that billionaire investors Richard Branson and Bill Gates have teamed up with ag giant Cargill to “grow” fake beef, chicken and duck to sell to you, it’s easy to see why they also need a fake label to sell their fake products. Branson’s and Gates’ reasoning for the fake products is that it’s a good way to get rid of CAFOs.

But is it really? Is fake food — complete with fake “blood” oozing from the fake “burgers” really the answer to CAFOs? You know the answer to that without me having to say it. Instead of talking about regenerative agriculture is the real answer to CAFOs, I’ll just encourage you to either personally attend the FDA’s meetings in October, or send a letter voicing your choice to be an informed consumer when you go to the store. If something’s grown in a lab, the producers should be proud enough of it to say that. If they’re not — if they feel they need to mislead you with fake words like “clean meat” to make you think you’re buying a so-called better form of “meat,” rather than something they concocted in a lab — then obviously they have something to hide. Don’t buy it. Voice your choice NOW, while you still can.

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