Last week, Missouri became the first legislature in the US to pass a bill that bars products that aren’t derived from harvested livestock (i.e. plant-based and lab-grown meats) from being marketed as ‘meat’. This decision followed calls by the US Cattlemen’s Association earlier this year for the US Department of Agriculture to create an official definition of ‘meat’, to prevent the term being used by artificial or lab grown meat products. This trend continued in Europe last month, when France banned the use of meat terms like ‘burger’ and ‘sausage’ on meat-free products.
So, in the wake of these developments, where does the Australian red meat industry stand on this issue? When asked whether Australia is considering a similar policy, Don Mackay (the independent chair of the Red Meat Advisory Council) said that the subject is on the council’s agenda for their next meeting, which will take place in June. The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) unites the peak industry councils for all major red meat industry sectors in Australia, including meat processors, retailers, cattle producers, sheep and goat producers and livestock exporters.
When questioned about his personal opinion, Mr Mackay said that he believed the US and French policy is on the right track. “My instinct,” he said, “is that we should properly define what meat is, and things that don’t fall into that definition should not be able to be called meat… I have no problem with these products being produced, but I think from a consumer’s point of view, people should know what they are getting… For this to occur, I assume some legislative support will need to be put in place”.