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Congressman Alford Leads Bipartisan, Bicameral FAIR Labels Act

Washington, DC – Earlier today, as first reported by Agri-Pulse, Congressman Mark Alford (MO-04) proudly led the introduction of the Fair Labels Act of 2024. This bipartisan and bicameral bill marks a significant step towards greater transparency in food labeling. This legislation is designed to ensure consumers have accurate information about plant-based and cell-cultured protein (lab-grown) products when making purchasing decisions.


Highlights of the Legislation:

  • Enhanced Clarity: The Act defines "Imitation Meat" and "Imitation Poultry" to help consumers easily identify plant-based protein products that visually resemble or are represented as meat or poultry but are derived from plant sources.
  • Authority & Inspection: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will oversee the labeling of these products, working alongside the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to maintain product inspection standards.
  • Labeling Requirements: Product labels will be required to use terms like "imitation" or similar descriptors, along with a clear disclaimer if the product does not contain meat or poultry.
  • Definition of Cell-Cultured (Lab Grown) Products: The Act provides a clear definition of cell-cultured meat and poultry products, ensuring that labels accurately reflect lab-grown food sources.
  • Regulatory Framework Confirmation: This legislation confirms the shared jurisdiction of the FDA and USDA in overseeing lab-grown meat and poultry, solidifying the cooperative agreement for labeling.


Congressman Alford (R-MO) issued the following statement:


“The American consumer deserves to know what they are eating and feeding their families. Whether they choose protein substitutes like plant-based or lab-grown protein or traditionally raised meat, the product should be labeled clearly. Farmers and ranchers across the country work from sun-up to sun-down to produce high-quality and nutritious meat for consumers. It is only fair that all products are labeled fairly. This begins with transparent and appropriate labeling laws which our legislation requires. I’m proud to introduce the FAIR Labels Act of 2024 on the federal level, especially given that Missouri was the first state to pass marketing with integrity legislation.” 


Senator Roger Marshall (KS) issued the following statement:


"Consumers deserve to be able to easily understand what products they are putting in their grocery cart. It's pretty simple: if food is represented as meat or poultry but is either lab-grown or made from a plant protein, it should be prominently displayed on the label. Distinguishing between a 'black bean burger' and an actual beef burger shouldn't be hard. But, as other meat alternatives with misleading names continue to appear on shelves, we need to do more to ensure the transparency of imitation meats versus the real farm-raised meats."


Rep. Don Davis (D-NC) issued the following statement:


“When going to the grocery store, Americans expect food labels to state what they are buying clearly,” said Congressman Don Davis. "It is important we continue to have that consistency in packaging for meat products. The bipartisan Fair Labels Act ensures Americans have choices at the grocery store while promoting consumer education on the products they consume.”


Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) issued the following statement:


"We are a country of competition, and the federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Requiring accurate and honest labeling of lab grown and cell cultured products will create a level playing field and support the free market in the agriculture industry. I am proud to lead this effort alongside my colleague Mark Alford to ensure that as the imitation and lab grown product industry grows, they are held to the same standards as traditional meat products.  We cannot allow the American people and our ranching and farming communities to be taken advantage of by those who wish to manipulate them through misleading labeling. "


Rep. Jonathan Jackson (D-IL) issued the following statement:


"I'm glad to work with my friend Rep. Alford on this important legislation. Clarifying federal labeling requirements will boost consumer transparency in the market, allowing these industries to thrive. I look forward to working with Rep. Alford and my colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee to include these provisions in the Farm Bill reauthorization."


Missouri Cattlemen’s Association issued the following statement:


“Missouri was the first state to pass legislation requiring marketing with integrity when it comes to these alternative protein products, so it is fitting Congressman Alford and his team are taking ownership of this issue,” said MCA President Chuck Miller. “These products must be held to rigorous standards the same way our products are. Consumers deserve to know what they are feeding their families.”


Missouri Farm Bureau issued the following statement:


“We applaud Congressman Alford’s efforts to crack down on deceptive marketing tactics that harm the agricultural industry and mislead consumers. For years, farmers and ranchers have watched plant-based and lab-grown meat alternatives flood grocery store shelves under misleading labels, using familiar terms like “burger” and “sausage” that rightfully belong to meat derived from animals raised by American farmers. This bill is an important step in ensuring consumers know what they are getting when they walk down the grocery store aisle.” – Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins, a fifth-generation farmer from St. Clair County.


Missouri Pork Producers Council issued the following statement:


"We truly appreciate Congressman Mark Alford's passion and focus. His leadership in bringing forth legislation to address fair and honest labeling of meat products is critical to the future of the pork industry” said Adam Dohrman, Sweet Springs, Chairman of The Missouri Pork Association.” 


National Cattlemen’s Beef Association issued the following statement:


“America’s farmers and ranchers work hard every day to bring a high-quality, wholesome product to market. We’re not afraid of a little competition, but it is unfair for lab grown or plant-based fake meat products to trade on beef’s good name,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Todd Wilkinson, a South Dakota cattle producer. “This bill is especially important for ensuring that consumers recognize lab grown products that may be coming to market in the future. Consumers deserve to know how their food is made and to understand that lab-grown products made in a bioreactor are not the same as the high-quality beef raised by farmers and ranchers.”


National Chicken Council, President Mike Brown issued the following statement: 

"While NCC recognizes consumers have a variety of dietary preferences and support individual choice, we advocate that imitation alternatives be accurately labeled in a way that clearly explains what they are and how they were made," said NCC President Mike Brown. "According to consumer research, one in five Americans have reported accidentally purchasing a plant-based product, believing it to be real chicken. As such, we're pleased to support legislation like the FAIR Labels Act that would clarify labeling requirements for these imitation products."


National Pork Producers Council, President Scott Hays issued the following statement:


“Accurate meat labeling at the grocery store benefits all consumers, regardless of dietary preferences. Labeling an imitation product as pork undermines the hard work that pork producers, like me, put in every day to deliver a reliable and affordable protein source. Thanks to Congressmen Alford, Davis, Jackson, and Williams - as well as Senator Marshall - for recognizing this need and taking a forward thinking, bipartisan approach.”  


American Sheep Industry issued the following statement:


“ASI is pleased to support this legislation as it addresses a critical need to accurately update labels to the protein choices consumers have today”.  ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick


National Association of the State Departments of Agriculture issued the following statement:


“Clarity and consumer confidence in ingredients and labeling must always be upheld. Disclosing science-based and accurate information on food labels and consistent regulatory enforcement by federal agencies is critical to maintaining the integrity of all agricultural products in the marketplace. NASDA is supportive of the FAIR Labels Act – which seeks to enforce those principles and ensure consumers can make informed purchasing decisions. We thank this bipartisan group of Members for putting forth this legislation and stand ready to work collaboratively with Congress and federal agencies on cell-based and imitation meat labeling requirements to ensure shoppers have confidence in what they buy at the grocery store. - Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).”


Media inquiries for Rep. Alford should be directed to Austin Higginbotham at 770-519-7894.