Oklahoma Passes Bill Outlawing Misleading Meat Labeling

Consumers selecting meat from the meat case at a grocery store. ( Wyatt Bechtel )

A bill has recently been signed into law in Oklahoma that will prohibit deceptive or misleading labeling of meat products, and in essence prevents cell cultured or plant based products from using meat terms.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 392 on April 26 after it had passed overwhelming in both the state House (93-0) and Senate (47-1). SB 392 was authored Senator Michael Bergstrom of Adair and was moved through to the House by Representative Toni Hasenbeck of Elgin, who is also a member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.

The bill guarantees package labeling is true and accurate, providing consumers with confidence in the meat they purchase. SB 392 isn’t a mandate on labeling, however it stipulates which products can and cannot use certain labels.

The bill also defines “meat” as being “any edible portion of livestock, poultry or captive cervid carcass or part thereof.”

The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) was glad to see the bill move forward as it was a legislative priority for the organization. OCA Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey says the bill will help protect the integrity of meat products.

“Oklahoma’s beef cattle ranchers work very hard every day to produce a safe and wholesome product, beef, for consumers.  Therefore, consumers know and appreciate that beef comes from cattle raised and cared for by responsible ranchers,” Kelsey says. “New technologies that utilize cell culturing to produce meat products in a laboratory would like to take advantage of wholesome terms like 'beef' for their products.  SB 392 would ensure that packaging of lab cultured, and plant substitute products may not pirate the term ‘beef’.”

The new law will go into effect 90 days following the adjournment of Oklahoma’s Legislature.

A number of other states have passed similar labeling laws recently including South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri. Other states like Alabama and Colorado are also considering bills on meat labeling during the current legislative session.