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Lab Grown Meat Hits Some Growth Hurdles Before It Even Starts. Alabama is Second State Banning It.

Posted in Food Insecurity,Food Policy,Our Blog on June 10, 2024

Lab grown meat has been a hot topic as states have started issuing legislation to ban the controversial meat product across the country, despite it not being mainstream manufactured.

In fact, Alabama is the second state banning lab grown meat. The first was Florida. Other states are expecting to follow.

What exactly is lab grown meat and why is it so controversial? There are many facets to that story.

The Science Behind Lab Grown Meat

There are several names for what is commonly referred to as lab grown meat in the science world. Cell-cultivated meat, cultured meat, cell-based meat, and more!

Essentially, this non-meat meat product is produced by extracting muscle cells from animals. These cells are transferred to bioreactors where growth is encouraged.

The goal?

Produce a meat product that closely resembles conventional meat. But without the need to raise or slaughter animals to get it.

Regulators First Approved Lab Grown Meat for Sale in the United States Last Summer

Last summer (June 2023) the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever grant of inspection to not one, but two companies to produce “cell-cultivated chicken.”

This approval opens the gates for a new label, paving the way for other lab grown meats.

This new meat first appeared on restaurant menus in San Franciso and Washinton D.C. the following month.

Several other companies are working toward the same goal. So far, only 43 of the 150 companies worldwide venturing in the cell-cultivated meat industry are based in the United States.

It is unclear, however, how long it will take for this technology to ramp up to a scale large enough to service grocery stores throughout the country. But they are working on it.

Florida Preemptively Bans Lab Grown Meat

Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis recently signed legislation preventing the sale of lab grown meat within the state.

Why did the governor feel the need to ban an emerging, but not yet available product? It wasn’t concern for health and safety, or GMO concerns. The reason may surprise you. And it makes some sense.

The reason?

Widespread use of non-traditional meat may impact traditional livestock farming, a significant food supply industry in his state and others.

In a press release, DeSantis said, ”Today, Florida is standing up against the global elite’s plan to force the world to consume meat grown in Petri dishes or insects. We will continue to invest in our local farmers and ranchers to preserve our authentic beef.”

Alabama’s Lab Grown Meat Ban Goes into Effect October 1

Not long after, Alabama joined Florida in the lab grown meat ban. Their stance, according to state representative Danny Crawford, is that “there are concerns with the process for lab-grown proteins. We are not so sure about the long-term consequences.”

The ban, under Act No. 2024-252, classifies the violation as a Class C misdemeanor and would not only suspend or revoke the food establishment’s food safety permit, it also incurs a Civil penalty ranging from $100 to $10,000.

However, the state continues to allow Alabama state governmental entities or institutions of higher education to continue to research the production of cultivated food products. Presumably, to better understand the process and potential long-term effects before being allowed in commerce in the state.

The Controversy

When it comes down to it, the controversy of lab grown meat is multi-faceted. Some are based in politics, others based in concern for the lack of science behind long-term effects. However, the main driving force is the environmental impact.

Supporters of Lab Grown Meat Cite Benefits to the Environment

It is no secret that raising meat animals, particularly cows, takes up a lot of space. Not to mention the suggestion that cow flatulence affects greenhouse gases.

This technology is meant to help counter the environmental problems associated with traditional livestock farming. According to supporters, animal agriculture contributes to deforestation, water contamination, and greenhouse gas emissions. Feeding animal cells amino acids, vitamins, sugar, and salts in a bioreactor takes up much less space and provides significantly less waste.

Animal welfare advocates support this product because no animals are harmed in making this protein source.

Some Groups are Concerned a Monopoly Will Form

This emerging technology is still in the toddler stages. It is still very expensive to produce and research. This limits the number of companies that can participate in this venture.

Certain lobbyists expressed that, “cell-cultured products cannot be independently produced – the technology is shrouded in intellectual property protection and requires intensive capital resources.” This could lead to monopolistic control of the industry and a significant impact to the food supply.

Some Opponents of Lab Grown Meat Consider it an Attack on Tradition

Some opponents of the controversial meat technology take support of local ranchers to a higher level, citing support of lab grown meat is a slight against tradition.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Wilton Simpson called lab grown meat “a shameful attempt to undermine our proud traditions and prosperity.”

Others Call it a Distraction

While lab grown meat should eventually be less expensive to produce, currently it is not attainable by the general public. The technology is still developing, and it isn’t widely available.

Some people imply that focusing on cell-cultivated meat and riling up the controversy between scientists and farmers is a distraction tactic.

The food industry is deeply troubled. Many families struggle to keep food on the table with the rising costs of basic household goods. Those calling it a distraction explain that it gives politicians something to talk about that isn’t directly impacting their constituents today.

Not All States Concerned are Banning It. Some Are Imposing Labeling Requirements.

A handful of states outright ban the sale of lab grown meat within their borders. That doesn’t mean, however, that all other states fully support the emerging food technology.

In fact, sixteen other states have imposed regulations on the product.

Mostly in the form of labeling requirements.

The federal government already requires lab grown meat to use certain standard labeling. For example, it would include “cell-cultivated” on the label.

Some states have taken it a step further, prohibiting the use of the word “meat” in their marketing and/or providing a disclosure statement explaining the use of cell-cultured products.

Could We See Lab Grown Meat in Grocery Stores Soon?

Is it possible we will see lab grown meat in grocery stores in our lifetimes?


It will be interesting to see more research determine the long-term impacts of consuming the food and environmental studies to determine if the energy usage requirements and production waste to make this product offset the negative environmental impact of traditional farming.

Stay in Touch with Make Food Safe!

If you’d like to know more about food safety topics in the news, like “Lab Grown Meat Hits Some Growth Hurdles Before It Even Starts.” check out the Make Food Safe Blog. We regularly update trending topics, foodborne infections in the news, recalls, and more! Stay tuned for quality information to help keep your family safe, while The Lange Law Firm, PLLC strives to Make Food Safe!

By: Heather Van Tassell (contributing writer, non-lawyer)