Business Bites: Gov. DeSantis prohibits sale, distribution of lab-grown meat in Florida

6 dicey dishes: Cultivated meat is nixed in Florida after the governor signs into law a bill banning the sale and distribution of said products; FDA finds traces of avian flu in milk products, but additional testing reveals traces aren’t able to make people sick; functional water brands strive to incorporate added health benefits in traditional products; and more.

7 Min Read
lab-grown beef

At a Glance

  • Florida becomes first state in the United States to ban lab-grown meat after the governor signed a bill into law on May 1.
  • FDA discovers remnants of avian flu in milk products, but additional testing proves traces were inactive.
  • Functional water products continue to grow in popularity, with new brands focused on delivering added health benefits.

Lab-grown meat continues to face global scrutiny. On the heels of an Italian ban on the controversial products, two U.S. senators introduced legislation in February that would ban cultivated meat from being served at schools nationwide if passed. Now, Florida officially put a stop to the sale and distribution of the products — in a portion of the Deep South — when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on May 1. Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finds traces of the avian flu in milk products, but recent additional tests prove the traces are inactive and unable to harm people if ingested. Learn more in this week’s column.

Florida governor bans lab-grown meat

A media frenzy is inevitable when it comes to lab-grown meat. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is aiding those efforts by recently signing into law a new bill, SB 1084, which prohibits the sale and distribution of lab-grown meat in the Sunshine State. This legislation makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to sell or manufacture the products, but interestingly it doesn’t prohibit research related to the products.

DeSantis proudly takes the exact opposite stance as the World Economic Forum, an international organization committed to improving the state of the world, by reinstating the importance of meat production and consumption — particularly in the U.S. — and worldwide.

“Today, Florida is fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs to achieve their authoritarian goals,” DeSantis said in a May 1 press release. “Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef.”

With support from Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, House Speaker Paul Renner, Sen. Jay Collins and Rep. Danny Alvarez, Sr., DeSantis has implemented a plethora of other measures to ensure Florida’s meat production continues to increase, such as signing other legislation that eases taxes on agri-tourism operators, simplifying steps for Florida farmers to receive tax exemptions and investing billions of dollars into the state’s agricultural industry.

Though Florida officials are on board with the new bill and measures DeSantis is taking, other industry organizations that have long studied lab-grown meat, its safety and ability to improve the food industry certainly aren’t.

“In signing the 81-page bill into law, Gov. DeSantis gave in to politicians playing food police when he should have stood up for innovation, economic growth and consumer choice,” Pepin Andrew Tuma, lawyer and legislative director at The Good Food Institute (GFI), said. “American-made cultivated meat has been rigorously inspected and ruled safe by the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] and FDA, so why are politicians with no experience in food safety interfering where they don’t belong? Floridians should decide for themselves what kind of meat they want to eat and not be limited by government overreach.”

quality control expert inspecting milk

FDA finds avian flu fragments in 1 in 5 retail milk products, claims no public health threat

Avian flu, also known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), is hitting flocks and herds in the U.S., but human infections have occurred, too. As such, in late April, FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) started testing retail milk for traces of HPAI — and found them in 20% of samples (although a greater portion of positive results came from regions with infected herds). Luckily, all samples were pasteurized as part of standard processing, meaning the virus fragments were inactive and did not pose a threat to human health. In fact, no active, infectious traces were found in any samples, meaning our commercial milk supply — along with products like cottage cheese and sour cream — should be safe for consumption, even with the HPAI fragments. Try to think of them as seasoning.

Stanley cups, health concerns drive functional water wave

Poor water quality and accessibility can cause all sorts of issues for our bodies and the world, such as increasing the spread of waterborne diseases, hurting the national and global economies and more. Other challenges, like aging water infrastructure and a changing climate, compound these troubles. During this National Drinking Water Week, however, a new generation of thirst solutions are mitigating problems related to poor quality and contamination of water, which is front and center in consumers’ minds because, well, everyone needs to stay hydrated. But these products go beyond hydration, promising improved gut health, immune support and more. Rachel French reports on the latest and greatest in functional waters.

KEY energy drinks

Coke, Pepsi veterans launch all-natural energy drink

“Energy continues to be a growth driver,” Jeff Kamholz, director of sales for SPINS, said in an education session about functional foods and beverages during this year’s SupplySide East, held April 16-17 in Secaucus, New Jersey. More specifically, in beverages, since energy drinks saw 7% growth over the last year, per SPINS data. As such, it’s no surprise that more companies are introducing new offerings in the category, including the female-led brand KEY. Co-founded by Tekla Back, former SVP of corporate strategy at PepsiCo, and Karishma Thawani, former senior procurement analyst at The Coca-Cola Co., KEY is an all-natural energy drink that harnesses the power of ketones. Ketones are chemical compounds produced by the body that can be used as an energy source for vital organs — heart, kidneys and muscle tissue — and can also cross the blood-brain barrier to provide an alternative energy source for the brain, scientific research has shown. When applied in beverages, ketones have also been proven to help achieve ketosis.

The ketones used in KEY are pure, active and natural, made via fermentation. Offered in three flavors — Ginger Lime, Pineapple Passionfruit and Grapefruit Peach — each 12-ounce can has 0 grams of sugar, 80 milligrams of caffeine from green tea and only a handful of natural ingredients.


Mann Packing Co. Inc. releases broccolini campaign to educate consumers

Broccolini — loved and hated by many — is a vegetable that has a long history. But did you know that the majority of broccolini products you’ve eaten may, in fact, not be the real thing? Welp, it’s actually true, according to Mann Packing Co. Inc., a subsidiary of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. and one of the largest suppliers of packaged vegetables in North America. The company, which trademarked the term “broccolini” more than 25 years ago, recently unveiled Real Mann’s Broccolini. The informational campaign was created to educate consumers about the coveted vegetable, a natural hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale (Brassica oleracea Alboglabra Group), which made its debut in 1998 as a new vegetable grown exclusively by Mann Packing Co. Inc. With a sweeter and milder flavor than regular broccoli, this baby broccoli product is 100% edible from flower to stem, according to the company, unlike many products labeled as “broccolini” that have a bitter taste, stringy stalk and hard texture.

“The term Broccolini is more than just a name to us — it’s a symbol of our company’s commitment to quality and innovation,” Melissa Mackay, VP of marketing for North America at Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., said. “It’s important for consumers to understand the Broccolini difference and know that the name matters.”

White Claw Tequila Smash

White Claw unveils Tequila Smash

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage brand White Claw released its first tequila-based beverage. The formulation, which took three years to create, incorporates non-GMO blue weber agave grown on a family-owned farm in Jalisco, Mexico, which is extracted using a proprietary process called Agua Dulce. The agave is mixed with authentic Mexican tequila, real fruit juices and ultra-pure seltzer to create the RTD cocktail that contains 0 grams of sugar per 12-ounce can. Cheers to that! The low-alcohol beverage is available in four flavors — Pineapple Passion Fruit, Mango Tamarind, Lime Prickly Pear and Strawberry Guava — offering a healthier option compared to the traditional sugar-laden margaritas and fruity concoctions that consumers often turn to during spring and summer celebrations.

“White Claw pioneered the ready-to-drink category, which continues to be one of the fastest-growing beverage categories and ripe for disruption,” Phil Rosse, president of Mark Anthony Brands Inc., said. “Following the success of our White Claw Vodka + Soda launch last year, we seized the opportunity to bring decades of beverage research and flavor innovation to another popular spirit, tequila.”

About the Author(s)

Heather Carter

Associate editor, Food & Beverage Insider

With over a decade of diverse professional experience under her belt, Heather has journeyed from the bustling world of local news reporting to the intricate realms of trade publishing. She has covered a wide array of topics, ranging from architecture and design to the food and beverage industry.

During her illustrious career, Heather also ventured into the realm of public relations, where she gleaned invaluable insights into the art of strategic communication and brand storytelling. Yet, her heart has always been anchored in the vibrant world of F&B, a passion deeply ingrained in her roots as the daughter of a seasoned chef. She has always held a profound appreciation for the role food plays in shaping cultures and connecting people.

With each story she tells, Heather seeks to illuminate the profound impact of food and beverage on people’s lives, celebrating its ability to evoke emotions, foster connections and weave the fabric of our shared human experience.

As Food & Beverage Insider's associate editor, she co-publishes a weekly news column, Business Bites, which showcases the latest industry news, highlighting key business updates, food and beverage innovation, industry events and more. Some of her other articles touch on important topics, such as ultra-processed foods, plant-based foods primed to change the food landscape, international flavors and ingredients, as well as better-for-you CPGs. She also frequently covers top trends at various industry events and has moderated first-of-their-kind education sessions at Informa events.

She can be reached at [email protected].

Scott Miller

Staff writer, Food & Beverage Insider

Scott Miller brings two decades of experience as a writer, editor, and communications specialist to Food & Beverage Insider. He’s done a little of everything, from walking a beat as a freelance journalist to taking the Big Red Pen to massive technical volumes. He even ran a professional brewing industry website for several years, leveling up content delivery during an era when everyone had a blog.

Since starting at Food & Beverage Insider, he’s written pieces on the price of greenwashing (and how to avoid it), debunked studies that served little to no purpose (other than upsetting the public) and explained the benefits of caffeine alternatives, along with various other stories on trends and events.

Scott is particularly interested in how science, technology and industry are converging to answer tomorrow’s big questions about food insecurity, climate change and more.

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