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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have announced "a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry." The agreement "describes the oversight roles and responsibilities for both agencies and how the agencies will collaborate to regulate the development and entry of these products into commerce," according to a press release. "This shared regulatory approach will ensure that cell-cultured products derived from the cell lines of livestock and poultry are produced safely and are accurately labeled."

The European Court of Justice's Grand Chamber has ruled that halal beef cannot carry an EU organic logo if the cows were not stunned before they were slaughtered. Œuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs v. Ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation, No. C-497/17 (E.C.J., entered February 26, 2019). The court compared an organic-labeling regulation requiring efforts to preserve animal welfare during the slaughtering process with a regulation allowing religious rituals during slaughter. "While it is true that [the regulation] permits the practice of ritual slaughter as part of which an animal may be killed without first being stunned, that form of slaughter, which is authorised only by way of derogation in the European Union and solely in order to ensure observance of the freedom of religion [], is insufficient to remove all of the animal’s pain, distress and suffering as effectively as slaughter with pre-stunning, which, in accordance with [the regulation],…

A California federal court has sided with In-N-Out Burgers in a lawsuit challenging whether Smashburger's Triple Double hamburger has "double the beef." In-N-Out Burgers v. Smashburger IP Holder LLC, No. 17-1474 (C.D. Cal., entered February 6, 2019). Smashburger's Triple Double, advertised as "double the beef," contains the same amount of beef as Smashburger's classic burger—five ounces—but the beef is split into two patties instead of one. The complaint alleged that Smashburger's "deceptive" advertising was likely to harm In-N-Out if consumers chose Smashburger's products over In-N-Out's based on inaccurate marketing. "[T]he claim that the Triple Double burger contains 'double the beef' as compared to the Classic Smash burger is literally false on its face," the court found. "The phrase 'double the beef in every bite' unambiguously refers to the amount of beef in the burger, rather than the number of layers of beef." The court dismissed Smashburger's argument that the "double…

The New York Times has published an update on proposed state laws defining "meat" as an animal-derived product. In addition to Missouri's existing law, several state legislatures—including Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska and Washington—will be considering statutes that would prevent purveyors of plant-based or lab-grown meat-replacement products from using the term "meat" on their labels. The policy director of the Good Food Institute, which is alleging that Missouri's definition violates the First Amendment, reportedly told the Times that she believes the issue will be moot after the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides guidance.

Nebraska State Sen. Carol Blood has reintroduced her bill to define "meat" as a product derived from animals following a withdrawal of her previous bill. The updated proposal would define meat as "any edible portion of any livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof and does not include insect-based, plant-based, or lab-grown food products." The bill would also include advertising or selling "an insect-based, a plant-based, or a lab-grown food product as meat" as a deceptive trade practice.

A Nebraska state senator has withdrawn a proposed bill to define "meat" as an animal-derived product. Sen. Carol Blood submitted the bill to protect the state's meat industry, according to the Washington Post. "All I'm asking for is truth in advertising. It's clear that meat comes from livestock, and livestock is our livelihood in Nebraska," Blood reportedly said. A motion to withdraw the bill was filed January 23, 2019, and Blood did not comment on the withdrawal.

A California federal court has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that Sanderson Farms Inc. misleads consumers about the presence of antibiotics in its chickens. Friends of the Earth v. Sanderson Farms Inc., No. 17-3592 (N.D. Cal., entered December 3, 2018). The plaintiffs—several advocacy groups—assert that Sanderson's marketing misleads consumers into believing that its chickens are raised without antibiotics, while Sanderson argues that its labeling, advertisements and website communicate to consumers that the chicken products they purchase do not contain antibiotics. "Sanderson argues its infographic on its '100% Natural' webpage contains only true statements: it shows what ingredients are not added to the chicken and says nothing about antibiotic use or nonuse," the court stated. "Defendant appears to make an expressio unius argument: that because antibiotics are not included in the list of excluded artificial ingredients, a reasonable consumer could not conclude that antibiotics are also excluded. As…

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has filed a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has failed to act on the organization's 2014 petition seeking certification for labeling claims about animal welfare and environmental stewardship during the meat and poultry production process. Animal Welfare Inst. v. USDA, No. 18-2621 (D.D.C., filed November 14, 2018). AWI's petition asserted that meat and poultry producers market food products as "humanely raised," made with "sustainable agricultural products," "raised in a stress free environment" and other similar claims despite allegedly exposing animals to "intensive confinement, barren and stressful housing conditions, and painful mutilations in order to increase production." AWI argues for the establishment of a certification program to verify marketing claims about animal welfare. According the complaint, USDA has not yet taken action on AWI's petition, allegedly resulting in an "unreasonable delay" in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.

U.K. and U.S. researchers have published a study on "a market-based approach of taxing red and processed meat according to its health impacts." Springmann et al., "Health-motivated taxes on red and processed meat: A modelling study on optimal tax levels and associated health impacts," PLOS One, November 6, 2018. The researchers predict that meat-related health care costs will amount to $285 billion in 2020, and they created a model to determine what level of tax or pricing change would account for the associated costs. They purportedly determined that doubling the price of processed meats and raising the price of red meat by about 20 percent would result in enough revenue to account for costs of the reduced consumption rates that would be associated with a rise in price. “I hope that governments will consider introducing a health levy on red and processed meat as part of a range of measures…

A consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging that he contracted Salmonella from beef supplied to a restaurant by JBS Tolleson Inc. Rozich v. JBS Tolleson Inc., No. 18-1929 (D. Nev., filed October 8, 2018). The plaintiff alleges his infection stemmed from an outbreak of Salmonella that resulted in JBS recalling nearly seven million pounds of beef on October 4, 2018. The complaint cites a July 2017 notice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service purportedly alleging a JBS facility president enabled “‘egregious’ and ‘inhumane’ practices with livestock.” The plaintiff seeks damages and costs for allegations of strict product liability, negligence and breach of warranty.

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