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Mississippi Joins States Enacting Stricter Labeling Requirements for Food Products Developed from Animal Cell Cultures

On July 1, Mississippi legislators passed a bi-partisan bill to prohibit certain animal-derived food products from being labeled as “meat” or a “meat food product.” While Senate Bill 2922 also imposes the same new restriction on plant-based and insect-based food products, its passage was driven at least in part to address recent developments in biotechnology that allow the growth of animal-derived food products in laboratories, rather than from livestock raised on farms and ranches. Specifically, SB 2922 amends Mississippi state law to prohibit meat labeling for any “plant-based” or “insect-based” food products, together with food products containing “cultured animal tissue produced from animal cell cultures outside the organism from which it is derived.” Its passage in Mississippi follows similar regulatory action in other states over the last year, including Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Wyoming.

Cell-cultured animal products – also referred to as “clean meat” or “cell-cultured meat” – are developed by scientists from a biopsy of a living or recently slaughtered animal in a sterile laboratory environment. These cells are then grown into products that mimic meat products in taste, texture, and aesthetics. Scientists have begun to differentiate and mature cells to resemble traditional meat products such as hamburgers, chicken nuggets, steak, and fish while reducing reliance on, and in some cases replacing, modern animal agriculture and industrial production practices.

Mississippi’s latest action was immediately followed by a lawsuit filed in federal court by several public interest groups. Led by the Institute for Justice, Upton’s Naturals Co., and the Plant Based Food Association, the complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on July 1, 2019, alleging that Mississippi’s new law places an unconstitutional limitation on freedom of speech under the First Amendment. In their complaint, plaintiffs focus on the labeling of plant-based products, rather than clean meat products. A similar legal action was brought in August 2018 against Missouri’s meat labeling restrictions; it remains pending as of this date.

© 2020 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 191

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About this Author

Alan J. Sachs Regulatory Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

Alan’s practice focuses on the wide range of regulatory issues faced by the global agriculture, food, biotechnology, and bioenergy industries.

Practicing environmental law provides him with daily opportunities to use his legal skills and training to help clients overcome often extremely technical business and regulatory challenges in order to ensure compliance with applicable environmental requirements.

He advises numerous Forbes Global 2000 companies on the legal and regulatory requirements associated with both domestic and foreign production, and the import, export, and...

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Sarah A. Kettenmann Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond New York, NY
Associate

Sarah uses her knowledge of environmental law and the physical sciences to help clients solve complex problems in a conservation-minded manner.

She maintains a diverse environmental practice, which includes litigation matters involving toxic torts and products liability and class action litigation concerning environmental and regulatory claims. Her regulatory practice includes advising clients on compliance with, and enforcement of, land use restrictions and remediation, and due diligence for waste facility permits under federal and state statutes. She also counsels clients on procedural and substantive aspects of permitting and environmental impact review, and related strategic planning for project development. She further advises clients on Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) compliance and enforcement. Sarah is a co-author of the Air Quality chapter in the Environmental Law and Regulation in New York treatise.

Before joining Beveridge & Diamond, Sarah clerked for the Hon. Chase T. Rogers, Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, from June 2014 to July 2015. During her time at Pace Law School, Sarah served as a judicial extern for Judge Laura Taylor Swain in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y.). She interned in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, S.D.N.Y., where she assisted with settlements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and under the Fair Housing Act to increase accessibility for people with disabilities. She also interned in the King’s County District Attorney’s Office and served as an environmental policy adviser and legal extern in the United Nations General Assembly, Permanent Mission of Saint Kitts & Nevis to the United Nations. She was as a research assistant in the Pace University Center for Environmental Legal Studies and acquisitions editor for Pace Environmental Law Review.

At Yale University, Sarah wrote her master's project on international legal frameworks for recovering electronic waste and also conducted field research on the impact of a proposed biofuels production plant in south Hawaii Island.

Prior to law school, Sarah participated in the first federally funded research expedition dedicated solely to examining the accumulation of plastic debris in the North Atlantic Ocean. Before that, she worked as a research associate for the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C., where she assisted staff attorneys and senior attorneys on law and policy projects designed to strengthen environmental governance domestically and internationally.

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