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Legislation introduced to bolster labeling of bison meat


News Staff - September 24, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – What’s in a name? Plenty, say buffalo producers who have increasingly become aware of water buffalo meat indigenous to South Asia and Africa being labeled simply as buffalo or bison which is found only in North America.  The largest populations are in South and North Dakota.

An announcement last week by U.S. senators from North Dakota and Colorado introducing the Truth in Buffalo Labeling Act came as good news to an industry whose association says, “The hard-won stability of the market for American bison meat is “under siege from a growing threat of water buffalo meat and pet food ingredients being deceptively marketed in a manner that misleads consumers into believing that they are purchasing bison.”

The legislation that was introduced Sept. 16 got another boost this week when a spokesman for U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, said that he has agreed to sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

The legislation would add two sentences to the end of an existing section of federal law that pertains to misbranded food. One of the sentences would define food items as misbranded if they contain water buffalo that is labeled only as “buffalo.” The other sentence would clarify that “buffalo” is an acceptable reference to bison.

Last year in February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged the agency had not established a specific regulation regarding the marketing of either water buffalo or bison.

The National Bison Association and the InterTribal Buffalo Council has been working with lawmakers since then with the FDA agreeing that water buffalo should be labeled as water buffalo and that bison should be labeled as ‘bison’ or ‘buffalo.’



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