Magazine article Geographical

Mincing Words: The US Meat Industry Is Attempting to Officially Define 'Meat' as a Slew of New, Clean Meats Move Closer to the Dinner Table

Magazine article Geographical

Mincing Words: The US Meat Industry Is Attempting to Officially Define 'Meat' as a Slew of New, Clean Meats Move Closer to the Dinner Table

Article excerpt

What makes meat, meat? This question is bothering all sides of the US meat industry, amid a flurry of research and development in what's being called 'lab-grown meat. The high-tech food is made by replicating small amounts of animal stem cells. While techniques vary from lab to lab, many of the start-up companies behind the research share the same goal--to take large-scale animal farming and slaughter out of the meat production equation. Hence their self-given title: 'clean meats'.

'These products appeal to consumers increasingly conscious of the health, ethical and environmental impacts of their shopping,' says Malte Rodl, who researches meat alternatives at the University of Manchester. 'Having the word "meat" on the label will fuel costumer expectations.'

Though the expensive technology means lab-grown meats are not for sale yet, they are expected be on shelves within the decade. The existing meat industry--worth an annual $860billion--is torn over how best to face its future competitors. The first shots were fired by the meat producers. In February, the US Cattlemen's Association filed a 15-page petition to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reserve the terms 'meat' and 'beef for products that were 'derived directly from animals raised and slaughtered'. Confusingly, the more-powerful National Cattlemen's Beef Association, has now countered that petition, stating lab-cultured meats are 'derived from parts of a carcass, in this case stem cells, and therefore fall within the statutory definition of meat food products'. …

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