Bill aims to clarify buffalo meat product labeling

Several local bison ranchers are in Washington lobbying for a new bill aimed to clarify meat...
Several local bison ranchers are in Washington lobbying for a new bill aimed to clarify meat product labeling. (Source: KCWY)(GRAYDC)
Published: Sep. 19, 2019 at 4:39 PM EDT

What’s the difference between bison and buffalo?

It may seem like the beginning of a bad joke, but for local ranchers it’s a serious matter.

“It’s definitely costing our ranchers money," said Dave Carter, Executive Director of the National Bison Association.

Here's why:

For instance, you go to the store to buy bison meat, but instead you see a product labeled ‘buffalo’ and think it’s the same thing. Chances are, it's actually water buffalo meat from South East Asia or Africa. Ranchers say, the label causes them to miss out on profits.

“It’s obviously designed to deceive the public into think that they are buying North American buffalo or North American bison," said Carter.

That’s why ranchers from North and South Dakota took to the capital this week, lobbying behind the 'Truth in Buffalo Labeling Act.' It's a bipartisan piece of legislation introduced by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) that would require any water buffalo meat not from the U.S. to be labeled specifically as “water buffalo” as not to confuse consumers.

“it’s to make sure that when somebody buys buffalo, they know they are getting North American bison and not water buffalo from Africa, India or something like that," said Hoeven.

So, why does it matter?

“Consumers want to understand where their food comes from," said Mike Jacobson with the National Bison Association.

Gray TV reached out to the FDA. While they won’t comment on pending legislation, they say, they look forward to working with Congress on this issue.

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