Texas House Passes Plant-, Cell-, and Insect-Based Food Labeling Restrictions
On May 10, Texas state lawmakers passed a bill that would prohibit plant-based, cell-based, or insect-based food products that do not contain meat from slaughtered animals from using terms like “meat,” “beef,” “pork,” or “poultry product” on food labels.
House Bill (HB) 316 states that a food advertised or labeled as a livestock or poultry product, analogue product, or cell-cultured product shall be considered misbranded if, among other requirements, it is an imitation of another food, unless its label bears the word “imitation” in prominent type. Meat and poultry analogue products and cell-based products are deemed misbranded unless they declare qualifying terms or disclaimers on the product label, such as “meatless,” “plant-based,” “made from plants,” “cell-cultured,” or other similar phrases that clearly communicate to the consumer the contents of the product.
HB 316 was introduced on November 9, 2020 by State Representative Brad Buckley (R), and was passed on May 10, 2021. There is a companion bill in the Senate, SB883, which was referred to the Senate Business & Commerce committee on March 11.
Of HB316, Rep. Buckley stated “[t]his is for those who choose to eat meat, but it’s also for those who choose to not eat meat” and that the goal “is to have clear and accurate labeling so the consumer has no doubt what they’re purchasing.” The bill gained support from the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Poultry Federation, Texas Pork Producers Association, and other livestock companies. However, the bill is opposed by organizations like the Plant Based Foods Association and the Alliance for Plant Based Inclusion. Several state lawmakers have also expressed concern. State Rep. Gene Wu (D) argued that the bill may cause Texas to be subject to unnecessary litigation and State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R) stated “[t]here shouldn’t be a need to have to legislate more regulation of these other companies when it seems their packaging is pretty clear.”
Keller and Heckman will continue to monitor any developments.