Politics & Law

Iowa Implements “Meat Integrity Bill” Regarding Cultivated & Plant-Based Meats, Becomes 3rd State to Enforce Restrictions

Iowa has become the third state to pass legislation regulating the labeling of lab-grown meat and alternative meat products. Governor Kim Reynolds recently signed into law Bill SF 2391, known as the “Iowa Meat Integrity Bill,” which mandates specific labeling requirements for lab-grown and plant-based imitation meat and egg products sold in the state. 

Effective July 1, products that include lab-grown meat and plant-based meat alternatives will need to be labeled with terms such as “fake,” “lab-grown,” “meatless,” “imitation,” or “vegan.” This legislation follows similar measures taken by Florida and Alabama, which have implemented total bans on cultivated meat earlier this month. 

The new law aims to prevent consumers from being misled by products that resemble traditional meat or egg products but are derived from alternative sources. The bill outlines definitions and regulations for both meat and egg products, focusing on “cultivated-protein food products” made from animal stem cells grown in vitro and “fabricated-egg products” made from plants or other materials.

MyriaMeat Unveils Cultivated Pork Fillet Made 100% from Cells
© Image courtesy of MyriaMeat

Key provisions

Key provisions of the bill include the introduction of “identifying meat terms” and “identifying egg terms,” which encompass words commonly associated with traditional meat and egg products, such as beef, chicken, sausage, omelette, and mayonnaise.

The bill stipulates that if the USDA approves these alternative products for federal nutrition programs, Iowa will seek waivers to exclude them. Furthermore, food processing plants are prohibited from misbranding these products, and violations could result in civil penalties of up to $10,000.

“This legislation prohibits companies from exploiting the trust consumers have with our livestock producers”

Community colleges, state institutions, and school boards in Iowa are also mandated to establish policies to prevent the purchase of misbranded meat and egg products and are specifically prohibited from purchasing cultivated protein and fabricated egg products. 

Governor Reynolds signed the bill at a farm in Ladora and made the following statement in a press release: “This legislation prohibits companies from exploiting the trust consumers have with our livestock producers and misleading consumers into buying products they don’t want. This is about transparency. It’s about the common-sense idea that a product labeled chicken, beef, or pork should actually come from an animal.”

Kim reynolds iowa bill signing
© Kim Reynolds on X

Iowa’s ag industry

Rep. Heather Hora, R-Washington, who is a pork producer herself, sponsored the bill, telling Iowa Public Radio (IPR), “This is but one thing we can do to help protect Iowa’s ag industry from the climate crazies that want to destroy everything we do right in the name of climate change.”

In the state of Iowa, pigs outnumber humans, with an estimated 52.4 million pigs compared to the state’s 3.2 million residents, according to a USDA summary. The USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture also reports that the state is home to 4,300 factory farms, producing 109 billion pounds of animal waste annually, more than any other state in the US.

Legislative opposition 

Democratic opposition has raised concerns about potential restrictions on national brands. Senator Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, expressed support for consumer protection during Senate debates. However, he also voiced concerns regarding the final amended version of the bill. “Truth in labeling is certainly something that I strongly believe in for consumer protection. But I’m also concerned with consumer nutrition. And there are some people who can’t eat eggs because of allergies but still need the nutritive content that might be supplied by alternative products,” he commented, as reported by IPR.

Democrats further opposed the amendment, citing its potential impact on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants, and Children programs and restricting them from purchasing egg substitutes despite the fact that 2% of children are allergic to eggs. 

Four cows in a field
© AF -stock.adobe.com

Tax breaks for livestock sales

In addition to the Meat Integrity Bill, Governor Reynolds signed HF 2649, reinstating a tax break for certain livestock sales. This tax break, which applies retroactively to the beginning of 2023, benefits Iowans who derive at least half of their income from farming.

Senator Dawn Driscoll, who also sponsored the bill, voiced concerns about lab-grown meat. “While lab-grown beef isn’t on the market yet, we know it’s only a matter of time. Lab-grown chicken has already been approved by USDA. Our kids should not be fed science experiments grown in a Petri dish,” Driscoll stated.

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