Three-and-a-half years after it received a cattle group's petition to define "meat" and "beef" as referring only to the flesh of food-bearing animals, the USDA said it has no authority over the labeling of alternative proteins from plants and insects. The FDA regulates those products, said the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and when it "is made aware that a non-animal product is being labeled as 'meat' or 'beef,' FSIS refers such information to FDA."
With cell-cultured meat getting closer to the marketplace, the USDA's meat safety agency is asking consumers how the high-tech products should be labeled and whether using names such as "pork loin" or "steak" to describe them should be permitted.
Amid complaints that the labels are deceptive, the USDA will undertake a top-to-bottom review of the Product of USA labels that appear on packages of meat, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. In addition to identifying meat from animals raised in the United States, the label can currently be used on foreign meat that is processed in U.S. plants.