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Wyoming Among States To Debate What, Exactly, Counts As 'Meat'

Redwan Farooq
Mosa Meat
A company called Mosa Meat made the patty of "cultured meat" in this burger by growing cow cells in a laboratory.

Missouri has already made it a crime to label something like a veggie burger or tissue grown in a lab as “meat.” Now, other states are considering doing the same.

Wyoming legislators are scheduled to discuss a bill this week that would prohibit the word “meat” from appearing on a package that does not contain edible parts of what was previously a live animal.  

Proponents of the bill say the concern isn’t so much veggie burgers -- it’s more about the kind of foods being developed by companies like Memphis Meats, Mosa Meat and Finless Foods, which are working on ways to create meatballs and fish fillets by growing animal cells in the laboratory. Such products aren’t for sale yet.

“It's not as far down the road as everybody thinks. It's evolving quite quickly, actually,” says Wyoming Senator Wyatt Agar, who sponsored the bill.

In November federal agencies announced progress in figuring out how to regulate those foods.

“Meat has a longstanding traditional meaning and we want to protect that, and think these other products should develop their own appropriate terminology,” says Jim Magagna with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, which supports the bill.

Legislators in Tennessee, Virginia and Nebraska are also set to consider similar measures as Wyoming.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. 

Rae Ellen Bichell was a reporter for KUNC and the Mountain West News Bureau from 2018 to 2020.