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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Texas approves bill to ban ‘meat’ and ‘beef’ from plant-based product labelling

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The Texas House has approved a bill banning the use of words like “meat” and “beef”, but not “burger”, on plant-based product labelling.

Texas lawmakers have approved a bill that bans plant-based and cultivated meat producers from using words like “meat” and “beef” for product labelling.

House Bill 316, which was approved after a brief debate, saw an overwhelming vote of 123-22. The bill argues that plant-based food labels can mislead consumers, and the law will prohibit companies from doing so by banning the use of words like “meat”, “pork”, “poultry” and “beef”. However, like the EU’s decision last year, the bill doesn’t include a ban on the use of the term “burger” for vegan products.

Brad Buckley, who is a member of the Texas House of Representatives and introduced the bill, said: “This is for those who choose to eat meat, but it’s also for those who choose to not eat meat.”

The bill would prohibit products derived from insects, plants or cell cultures from using those terms in their labelling or advertising. Using these words could lead to a company being accused of misleading consumers.

Such legislation is being debated across US states, and around the world too, as plant-based foods rise in popularity and challenge the traditional meat and dairy sectors. In places where such bills have been approved, the decision has been met with fierce backlash, with people citing it as a violation of free speech.

The Texas bill has been supported by figures in the animal and livestock industries, including the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Poultry Federation and Texas Pork Producers Association. On the other hand, the legislation is being opposed by leading plant-based brands and organisations like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Plant Based Foods Association and the Alliance for Plant Based Inclusion.

Gene Wu, a Democrat representative from Houston, said the bill could open the stage up for unnecessary litigation. Kyle Biedermann, a far-right Republican, supported the bill but was concerned about the government’s overreach into private businesses. “There shouldn’t be a need to have to legislate more regulation of these other companies when it seems their packaging is pretty clear,” he said.

Buckly responded that the bill would be beneficial to Texans. “Our goal here today with this bill is to have clear and accurate labelling, so the consumer has no doubt what they’re purchasing,” Buckley responded. “The most frequent call I’ve gotten is from vegetarians that are for this bill.”

He later added: “It is not anti-plant based, anti-cell culture.” The bill is now set to be voted on again in the House, before it moves to the state Senate.

Anay Mridul
Anay is the managing editor of The Vegan Review. A journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.