Rounds sponsors bill to prohibit lab-grown meat in school meals

Cell-cultivated meat products, which are grown from real animal cells, would not be allowed in school meals served to America’s K-12 students under a bipartisan bill proposed on Jan. 25 by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD).

“I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation that benefits South Dakota producers and protects students from the unknown effects of cell-cultivated meat products,” Sen. Rounds said last week.

The School Lunch Integrity Act of 2024, S. 3674, which Sen. Rounds sponsored alongside original cosponsor U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would prohibit the use of cell-cultivated meat under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP).

“South Dakota farmers and ranchers work hard to produce high-quality beef products,” said Sen. Rounds. “These products are often sold to South Dakota schools, where they provide necessary nutrition to our students. With high-quality, local beef readily available for our students, there’s no reason to be serving fake, lab-grown meat products in the cafeteria.”

To date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the school meals programs, has not issued any guidance on cell-cultivated protein in the NSLP and the SPB, according to the bill summary provided by the senators.

“Montana ranchers grow the best meat in the world, that’s a fact — and our students ought to be getting the best in their school breakfasts and lunches every day,” said Sen. Tester. “This common-sense bill will make sure our schools can serve real meat from our ranchers, not a fake substitute that’s grown in a lab.”

S. 3674, which is supported by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, R-CALF USA, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the South Dakota Pork Producers, has been referred to the U.S. Senate  Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee for consideration.