FRANKFORT – Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles filed comments with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the labeling of lab-grown protein products at the end of September.
“Let me be perfectly clear: the importance of clear and transparent labeling is a consumer protection issue,” Quarles wrote in the letter. “Kentucky farm families and I believe in the free market and the spirit of competition. As new technology emerges on the scene, it is important that consumer protection agencies on the state and federal levels be proactive in helping educate consumers about new products and giving them the ability to differentiate protein products whipped up in a lab from those raised on a family farm.”
In 2019, Quarles worked with members of the Kentucky General Assembly to pass House Bill 311, which forbid lab-grown protein products from being labeled as meat. House Bill 311 passed both houses easily, with only one nay vote.
On Nov. 16, 2018, the USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the two agencies would share jurisdiction over the production of lab-grown protein products. According to a news release from the agencies, FDA would regulate the lab stage until cell harvest, and USDA would regulate the production and labeling of food products. On Sept. 1, 2021, USDA announced a 60-day comment period as it develops labeling rules for products comprised of or containing cultured animal cells.