Texas lawmaker aims to keep plant imitators from claiming they're meat

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The Texas legislature is jumping into the fight between plant-based burger patties and meat derived solely from cattle.

Republican State Representative Brad Buckley of Killeen has introduced the 'Texas Meat and Imitation Food Act' that would block the words "meat, beef, chicken, pork or any "common variation" of them from being used on packaging, even if only to claim similar textures, flavors or cooking methods, unless the official definitions are met.

It wouldn’t prevent the use of "burger" or other non-specific terms.

"For me it is all about truth in advertising, being truthful to your consumer", Missy Bonds, a third-generation Texas rancher and a board member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association told the Austin American-Statesman.

"We are not opposed to new development and new products," Ms. Bonds said. "But they are trying to connect our product (real meat) to their product (plant-based), and we want to dissociate our product from their product."

Not so according to Scott Weathers, senior policy specialist at the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that promotes plant-based alternatives to animal protein.

Mr. Weathers said the use of the word "meat" and related terms on the labels of such products are appropriate because they describe functionality and intended use. They aren’t meant to trick anyone, Weather said.

According to the Good Food Institute, sales of plant-based meat alternatives came in at about $940 million nationwide in 2019, the most recent figure available, a sum dwarfed by the nearly $9 billion generated annually by sales of beef cattle in Texas.

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