Dec 11 2019
I Have a Beef with Phony Meat
Chances are you’ve heard of plant-based protein products seeking to imitate the taste of real beef that Americans love. Many of these fake-meat companies are running smear campaigns against actual beef, using deceptive labeling and marketing practices to do so. This has left consumers confused about the ingredients and nutritional values of so-called beef alternatives. I introduced the Real MEAT Act in the Senate because Americans deserve to know whether the meat they are eating is the real thing.
In a recent survey, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association found that nearly 80% of consumers believe alternative protein products are either nutritionally superior or equivalent to actual beef. There’s no evidence to support that claim. A four-ounce serving of lean ground beef contains a range of nutrients that fake meat lacks, including zinc, iron and B vitamins. Real beef also contains less fat, saturated fat and sodium, as well as more protein, when compared with most meat alternatives of equal weight.
Misleading labels are to blame for the confusion. Plant-based protein packaging often contains the words “beef,” “meat” and “burger” in large letters. The Real MEAT Act would work to end deceptive labeling practices for imitation meat products, clear up confusion by codifying a definition of “beef” for product labeling, and provide a mechanism for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to seek enforcement actions if a product is found to be mislabeled. The bill would also ensure that the packaging for these products clearly states they contain no actual meat.
Click here to read the full opinion piece.