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Laws proposed to push back on imitation meat

Posted at 6:17 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 19:17:57-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The food sits in the meat aisle, right next to the steak, ground beef and all the other meat...but this stuff is different.

It doesn't come from an animal, but it's designed to taste like it does.

"Meat sells, so they got to make it look appetizing, people eat with their eyes,” says Sean Fuller, owner of Just Good Meat.

If you read the labels, it's usually clear you're eating plant-based food, imitation meat. but some say you can easily be deceived.

"I’m definitely seeing it kind of running into the market where you're buying something at a fast food restaurant or you're doing frozen meals and it's in there and you not knowing it because I could see it being a cheap filler,” says Fuller.

A law proposed by US Senator from Nebraska Deb Fischer would clamp down on companies that don't label their food properly.

The Real Meat Act would define what beef is, make producers label their product as being something other than meat and allow the Department of Agriculture to enforce it instead of the FDA.

"Make sure the consumers know that they are buying something plant based or when the lab grown products hit the shelves that that is a lab grown product,” says Jessie Herrmann, VP of Legislative Affairs, for Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association.

Those in favor say they don't want what happened to the dairy industry to happen to the beef industry.

The FDA has said companies shouldn't label products milk unless it comes from an animal, but that hasn't happened.

"You've got soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, so all of those technically should say milk-like or imitation according to existing law but FDA has not enforced that,” says Herrmann.

On the state level, mis-labeling food is banned right now, but the law proposed by State Senator Carol Blood would make it a violation of the Pure Food Act, so if consumers think the food is mis-labeled, the issue could go to the courts.

Impossible Foods, who's meat-flavored food is sold at Burger King and other Omaha restaurants thinks it's too much.

They say deceptive labeling isn't an issue…but ultimately Congress, not the states, should handle it.

"How is a company supposed to produce 50 different packaging products in which to send out to all the states,” says Kent Rogert, lobbyist for Impossible Foods.

And even if the trend continues, and you see more imitation meat, Sean Fuller who owns a butcher shop, isn't sweating it.

"I'm not worried because beef it too tasty,” says Fuller.