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Federal prosecutors in Chicago are seeking an injunction against Kingdom Farms Wholesale Meats Inc. for allegedly packaging, selling and transporting products without federal marks of inspection and required labeling. U.S. v. Kingdom Farms Wholesale Meats Inc., No. 18-4155 (N.D. Ill., filed June 14, 2018). The complaint asserts that Kingdom Farms removed products from properly labeled shipping containers and repackaged and sold them without inspection marks and labeling, applied inspection labeling without authorization, and reused properly labeled shipping containers without authorization. The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges the defendants’ actions violated the Poultry Products Inspection Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act and seeks a permanent injunction restraining them from misbranding or mislabeling products and compelling their compliance with the laws.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will host a public meeting on cultured meat, poultry and seafood on July 12, 2018. In a press release, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb asserted that the agency governs "both substances used in the manufacture of these products of animal cell culture technology and the products themselves that will be used for food" and grouped cultured meats with other "rapidly evolving areas of technological innovation" such as genetically engineered foods and microbial, algal and fungal cells generated and used as direct food ingredients. "The FDA remains committed to using our expertise in relevant scientific areas to evaluate the safety of emerging food technologies, such as foods generated by animal cell culture technology," according to Gottlieb's statement. "But as we mentioned, in addition to leveraging the existing expertise of our staff, we’re also investing in making sure we are considering all the unique attributes and challenges…

The American Grassfed Association and the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) have filed a petition urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to change its policy allowing meat produced outside of the United States to be labeled as a product of the country if it passes through an agency-inspected plant. The groups call for a change to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Policy Book, which allows a label to bear "Product of U.S.A." if the food is "processed" within the United States. They argue that the section should be clarified to instruct that a label can bear the phrase if "it can be determined that significant ingredients having a bearing on consumer preference such as meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, etc., are of domestic origin (minor ingredients such as spices and flavorings are not included). In this case, the labels should be approved with the understanding that such ingredients…

The Missouri legislature has passed an agriculture bill that would prohibit companies from labeling lab-grown and plant-based products as "meat." The bill bans "misleading or deceptive practices" in the sale of meat, including "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry." Missouri Governor Eric Greitens must sign the bill by July 15, 2018. Similar measures have been debated at the federal level, and the U.S. Cattlemen's Association filed a petition in February 2018 urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish beef labeling that would limit the use of "beef" and "meat" on products not derived from animals.

U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Angus King (I-Maine) have introduced a bill that "would allow meat and poultry products inspected by state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs to be sold across state lines," according to a press release. The senators assert that although the inspection programs of 27 states meet or exceed federal inspection standards and the meat is processed through facilities approved by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, the products are not allowed to be sold across state lines. "Our bipartisan, commonsense bill will create new markets for producers and give consumers more choices at the grocery store, while continuing to maintain the high quality and safety standards necessary to keep consumers healthy," Rounds was quoted as saying.

The Good Food Institute (GFI), with a group of plant-based and “clean” meat companies, has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) responding to a petition filed by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association requesting that the agency restrict the definitions of “beef” and “meat” to products derived from live animals. GFI argues that USDA cannot grant the petition because the agency lacks authority over plant-based products, which are governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. USDA is “authorized only to regulate meat labels to protect the health and welfare of consumers, not to prop up an industry or favor one production method over another,” the group asserts. In addition, the group argues that plant-based or clean meat product labels that “clearly and accurately disclose the nature of the product” do not violate the labeling requirements of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act or the Federal Meat Inspection…

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has sent a letter asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the regulatory framework for cell-cultured food products. According to the letter, such food products include lab-grown meat and “animal-free” milk that can be produced from fermented yeast and proteins in cow’s milk. DeLauro requested a “comprehensive review” of the unique challenges in safety oversight, the regulations and labeling requirements that may already exist, and a determination on whether federal agencies have begun preparing for the product’s commercialization. “While not yet commercially available, the potential introduction of this new type of product into the nation’s food supply and economy raises many important questions,” DeLauro said in the letter. “To date, it remains unclear exactly how cell-cultured food products should be regulated . . . More information is needed for Congress to address this emerging sector in the United States and to ensure it…

With companies creating plant-based foods that look and taste like real meat—and even getting product placement in grocery meat cases—USA Today reports that U.S. cattle ranchers are disputing the categories of the products developed and sold by these companies, including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. The United States Cattlemen’s Association has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling for the agency to establish beef labeling that would limit the use of the terms “beef” and “meat” to products derived from animal sources and inform consumers about the difference between such products and “alternative protein sources.” The petition is reportedly aimed not only at “plant-based meat” substitutes such as tofu but also at “clean meat” grown in a lab from animal stem cells. The firm Allied Market Research reportedly predicts that plant-based meat businesses could sell $5.2 billion worth of products by 2020. About 60 percent of…

President Donald Trump has commuted the 27-year sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, a former kosher meatpacking plant executive convicted of 86 counts of federal bank fraud and money laundering. After Rubashkin was sentenced in 2009, politicians, law enforcement officials and legal experts argued that his case was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct, but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction and sentencing in 2011. Rubashkin and his family members were initially accused of a range of charges, including conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants for profit and child labor law violations.

Aaron Carroll, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, argues in a New York Times editorial that “panic-du-jour” about unhealthy foods encourages people to unnecessarily live “in terror or struggling to avoid certain foods altogether." Carroll asserts that the repeated condemnation of various food ingredients—including fat, cholesterol, meat, monosodium glutamate, genetically modified organisms and gluten—“shows how susceptible we are to misinterpreting scientific research and how slow we are to update our thinking when better research becomes available.” For example, fewer than one percent of Americans have a wheat allergy or celiac disease, Carroll states, but at least one in five regularly chooses gluten-free foods. “Gluten-free diets can lead to deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamin B, folate and iron. Compared with regular bagels, gluten-free ones can have a quarter more calories, two and a half times the fat, half the fiber and twice the sugar. They also cost more,” he…

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