What’s In A Name? Clean Meat Vs. Cultured Meat
When it comes to meat that is grown via cell cultures, there are many names for it. Early on, people called it “in vitro” meat or “lab” meat. And recently, it’s been referred to as “cultured” meat or “clean” meat. It may seem like a trivial detail, but the naming of this type of meat has huge implications for its acceptance by consumers. This is because whether consumers accept cell-derived meat may hinge largely on what it’s called. And so the naming process needs to be a crucial part of animal advocacy. The lives of many animals hang in the balance when we consider that promoting the product as “clean meat” may make consumers more likely to eat it than “cultured meat,” for example. So then, such products become more viable and get closer to hitting the market. Advocates such as Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) are investigating the most optimal name for cell culture-derived meat.
Last year, ACE conducted a randomized trial “in order to compare reported consumer acceptance levels of the ‘clean’ and ‘cultured’ names of cell cultured animal products.” This is not the first study of its kind, and ACE acknowledges this in their review of relevant literature. For their study, ACE used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace) to recruit about 1,000 participants. They randomly assigned them into two groups. One group received a news story about “cultured” meat; the other group received the same story, but this story used the name “clean” meat.
Next, the researchers presented each group with several “purchasing scenarios,” and they recorded the participants’ answers. The researchers also asked the participants to look at critical news stories concerning cell-derived meat—as this is likely to be part of how cell-derived meat will hit the media in the future. They found that the “clean” name led to “significantly greater consumer acceptance of cell cultured meat” as there was an 11% increase in purchasing choices for cell-derived animal products. Another recent study also comparing the “clean” and “cultured” names showed a similar result—an 8% increase in purchasing choices for cell-derived animal products. The researchers think that this at least moderately suggests that “clean” is showing promise as the preferable name for cell-derived animal products.
The authors note that there are some significant limitations within the study that should be cause for pause before anyone takes these results as the final word. But the results do provide some initial details for animal advocates with their eyes on this issue. Even though they aren’t yet giving a final word on the topic, the work ACE is doing here should cause advocates to take notice.