Missouri Is First State to Regulate Use of ‘Meat’ on Food Labels


VEGETARIAN FOOD COMPANY Tofurkey has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Missouri‘s first-in-the-nation law regulating how food manufacturers use the word “meat.”

Aimed at meat-alternative manufacturers that label plant-based products made from tofu, soy or tempeh as meat, the state’s new law forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” It defines meat as edible products coming from livestock or poultry carcass intended for human consumption.

The bill was signed into law on June 1 by then-Gov. Eric Greitens and went into effect Tuesday. Under its provisions, labeling products as meat that do not fit the state’s definition could lead to fines and prison time.

But with vegetarian and vegan diets becoming more popular, meat-alternative companies are growing – and fighting back. The company that makes Tofurky, a vegetarian and vegan replacement for meats such as sausages, burgers and hot dogs made from tofu, soy and wheat protein, filed its lawsuit on Monday in Missouri. The Oregon-based company and The Good Food Institute, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. that advocates for plant-based food alternatives, allege the law is too vague, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit argues that the new law could target numerous companies that use similar terms to describe their vegetarian products. According to AP, Tofurkey says it will have to change all of its packaging if the law stands.

However, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association isn’t worried about Tofurkey, which states that its products come from plants on its packaging. Mike Deering, the association’s executive vice president told AP that the concern is over the new science of meat grown in labs by culturing animal cells and whether or not companies will disclose how those products were made once they’re on the shelves.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said protecting “beef nomenclature” is a priority, and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February to ensure that the words beef and meat only be used on foods from animals “born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner,” according to AP.

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