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Iowa House passes ban on labeling synthetic protein products as meat

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(The Center Square) – A bill passed by the Iowa House of Representatives will force companies to answer “where’s the beef” when labeling protein-based food products.

Senate File 2391 would penalize businesses if they mislabel protein meat substitutes as meat.

“It’s really very simple – if it’s not meat, it should not say that it is meat. If it’s not an egg, it shouldn’t say it’s an egg,” said House Speaker Pat Grassley in his weekly newsletter. “Lately, we’ve seen more protein products pop up, such as “lab-grown meat” which has led to the need for legislation to require clear labeling.”

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association supported the bill.

“We’re not afraid of competition because we know nothing compares to an Iowa-raised ribeye,” the organization said in a news release. “However, we are concerned about the decisions being made by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., that will ultimately decide what foods are eligible to be served to Iowans in our schools or through supplemental nutrition programs. All Iowans deserve access to real meat, not experimental protein.”

Companies that violate the law would face a simple misdemeanor charge, which carries a fine of between $40 and $400 per offense, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

The bill was amended by the House to include products that are egg substitutes.

Democrats opposed the amendment because it would prohibit the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants, and Children programs from purchasing egg substitutes.

“According to the experts at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, as many as 2% of children are allergic to eggs,” said Rep. J.D. Scholten, D-Sioux City.

Rep. Monica Kurth, D-Davenport, said she supported the addition of information to the products but had problems with the amendment that would ban schools and universities for purchasing lab-grown meats.

“Because we are afraid these products may cut into our cattle, hog, poultry, egg market, we want to keep that from happening by restricting the sale to schools, colleges and universities,” Kurth said.

The bill passed by a vote of 60-34. It now goes back to the Senate, which has already approved the bill but must consider the House amendment.

“Iowa consumers deserve to know what they are buying and eating,” Grassley said. “This bill will also protect Iowa egg and livestock producers from bad actors who are mislabeling their foods, taking advantage of the hard work of generations of livestock farmers and egg producers.”

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