Bison Association launches petition against ‘buffalo’ labeling for water buffalo meat
September 4, 2018
The National Bison Association launched an online petition asking the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration to immediately develop new labeling policies to stop water buffalo products sold in the U.S. from being labeled only as "buffalo."
The petition effort was launched after the Westminster, Colo.-based association learned of a growing number of retail stores carrying water buffalo meat labeled only as "Wild Buffalo" or "Free Range Buffalo."
Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association, said, "Our ranchers and marketers have worked hard over the past two decades to build a relationship with our customers that is built upon quality and trust. That trust is threatened by water buffalo products coming into the market disguised as bison."
Carter noted that North Americans have been describing bison as buffalo for more than three centuries.
"The buffalo nickel, Buffalo Bill Cody, and buffalo soldiers are all terms that illustrate how deeply embedded the word 'buffalo' is to describe North American bison," Carter said. "Customers deserve to know whether the products they are buying are bison or water buffalo."
Carter said the National Bison Association had asked the USDA and FDA three years ago to update their food labeling policies to require that any water buffalo products or ingredients be required to be fully listed as "water buffalo."
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A delegation of bison ranchers has scheduled a meeting with the two agencies in Washington next month to push for immediate action on that request, he said.
"In the meantime, we want to demonstrate the public's support for this important truth-in-labeling request," Carter said. "That's why we launched our online-petition."
People can access the petition by going to change.org and typing "water buffalo" into the search feature.
Carter noted that officials in charge of U.S. pet food labeling are already working on new rules to address similar misleading labeling in pet food and treat products.
"USDA and FDA need to follow the lead of the pet food regulators on this issue," he said. ❖