Politics & Law

Alabama Becomes 2nd State to Ban Cultivated Meat, Restricting Sustainable Options for Millions

Following Florida’s recent ban, Alabama has become the second state in the USA to prohibit the sale and production of cultivated meat. This technology grows meat directly from cells without raising and slaughtering animals.

Alabama’s Governor Kay Ivey signed the SB23 bill into law on Wednesday, making it enforceable as a class C misdemeanor. Those found guilty can face a maximum jail sentence of three months and a fine of $500.

Jack Williams, vice chair of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee, sponsored and proposed the bill, carried in the House by State Representative Danny Crawford (R-Athens). 

Senator Williams emphasized that Alabamians want transparency in their food, describing lab-grown meat as cells with chemicals that are not proven safe to eat. He added that Alabama aims to protect real meat production from livestock raised by farmers. Local media reported that Williams said, “Take your fake meat elsewhere,” repeating the phrase used by Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis a week earlier.

The Alabama bill includes an exception for higher education institutes and government departments to research cultivated meat.

GOOD Meat & Chef José Andrés debut cultivated chicken dish in historic US first-sale
Image courtesy of GOOD Meat

Last year, California’s UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat received approval from two regulatory bodies to sell their cultivated chicken after a several-month process to confirm the products’ safety.  In addition, according to the Good Food Institute’s latest report, recent research has enhanced the industry’s ability to lower expenses, boost production, and improve the quality and safety of upcoming products. 

Despite these approvals demonstrating that producing meat sustainably and safely is possible, Arizona, Wisconsin, Texas, Nebraska, and Tennessee are proposing to ban this technology. 

Limiting consumer choice

Cultivated meat companies have expressed disappointment with the bans affecting millions of people living in those states. Such prohibitions limit consumer choices while overlooking cultivated meat benefits in addressing environmental, health, and animal welfare issues.  

A cultivated chicken sandwich
© UPSIDE Foods

With 43 companies in the US developing cell-based products, attracting over 60% of global investments in this sector, the FDA and USDA expect to receive new applications for food products made with cultivated animal cells.

“These laws do not protect consumers. It is “food policing” to protect entrenched interests”

UPSIDE Foods has launched a petition on Change.org  that urges lawmakers to respect Alabamiams’ right to decide what’s on their plate.  Another petition asking politicians to reconsider Florida’s ban is also collecting signatures.

“Let’s be clear: These laws do not protect consumers. It is “food policing” to protect entrenched interests, defying free market principles and limiting consumer autonomy for a product the food safety experts at USDA and FDA have deemed safe,” UPSIDE Foods states.

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