Arizona Legislators Join Cell-Cultured Meat Labeling Debate
As previously reported on this blog, there has been considerable discussion around the regulation of cell-cultured meat both at the federal and state levels. Earlier this month, USDA and FDA published a formal agreement regarding federal agency oversight of human food produced using cell technology. Under the formal agreement, FDA will oversee cell collection and the development/maintenance of cell banks up and until the harvesting stage, where regulatory oversight will then transfer to USDA, which will conduct inspections of establishments where cultured cells are harvested, processed, packaged, and labeled, in accordance with FSIS regulations.
However, there have been parallel discussions at the state level, with a focus on the labeling of cell cultured products. For example, an Arizona state lawmaker recently introduced a bill that, if enacted, would make it illegal to label a product as “meat” if it is “not derived from harvested production livestock.” The same restrictions would apply to labeling a product as “chicken,” if it was not once live poultry. The bill, HB2604, was introduced to the Arizona House Committee on Land and Agriculture by David Cook (R-Globe), with specific intention to prevent cell-cultured meat from being labeled “meat.” However, HB2604 was not met without criticism. For instance, some lawmakers questioned whether the bill could withstand a federal preemption legal challenge. And while the bill failed to pass the House, it is up for reconsideration within the month.
As our readers are aware, Arizona is not the only state stepping into the discussion. Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and several other states have introduced legislation that would prohibit representing a product as meat that is not derived from livestock or poultry. And as interest in cell-cultured meat continues to grow, more states are likely to enter the debate. We will continue to monitor and report on regulatory activity in this area.