WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) recently released survey results that showed consumer confusion regarding ingredients in plant-based meat alternatives.

Following an online survey of 1,800 consumers, the trade association found that less than half of respondents understood that “plant-based beef” was supposed to describe an entirely vegetarian or vegan food product. 

NCBA results showed that approximately one-third of respondents believed that plant-based meat alternatives contained at least some real beef.

“The fact that so many consumers look at these labels and think that the products include meat or other animal by-products is a clear sign that the misleading labeling and deceptive marketing practices of plant-based fake meat companies has caused real consumer confusion,” said NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “Many of these fake-meat products purposely use graphics and words that trade on beef’s good name, and it needs to stop immediately. Consumers rely on names and product packaging to inform their purchasing decisions, and they have a right to know that this information is accurate and not misleading.”

Further results from the survey include 44 percent of respondents believing that plant-based products were lower in sodium when the items are between 220 to 620 percent higher in sodium than the same size serving of real ground beef. Only 24 percent of people identified beef as being lower in sodium.

In other plant-based meat alternative news, The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) ran a full-page ad in the Feb. 11 issue of the Wall Street Journal saying that plant-based meats might need warning labels.

The Washington, DC, non-profit group said that several tests were administered by an independent lab which showed the presence of the carcinogen acrylamide. The acrylamide levels found are high enough to require Prop 65 warnings under California law.

CFF said that the state of California passed Proposition 65 in 1986, which requires a warning when a company exposes people to a chemical that causes cancer or reproductive harm.

“The discovery of acrylamide in cooked plant-based meat adds another blemish to the perceived health halo around these products,” the CCF said. “Despite what the public may believe, synthetic meats are ultra-processed and not healthier than real meat, according to nutritionists. Some fake meats contain ingredients such as propylene glycol and titanium dioxide to help them mimic real meat.”