It’s only been a few months since France’s controversial ban on how meat alternatives could be marketed was enacted. Their new law prevents companies from describing something as “meat” that’s predominantly made from plants.
Other factions have taken the opportunity to jump on board with what France is doing, including Missouri, who just became the first U.S. state to impose a similar, more overarching ban.
Photo: Peter Pham // Foodbeast
Missouri’s new law, which was passed in mid-May and takes effect today, forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested livestock or poultry.” That includes cultured or lab-grown meats on top of those that are predominantly plants. Those who violate the law can be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to 1 year, according to USA Today.
The language within the new law means that any vegan form of meat can’t be called as such anymore. Titles like vegan meatballs, plant-based bacon, or even lab-grown beef are no longer legal in Missouri, meaning that if those companies want to sell their products there, they have to be renamed if they violate the law.
Behind the law is the Missouri Cattleman’s Association, who backed the bill with reasonings that include protecting local ranchers and preventing customer confusion when shopping.
Interestingly, beef has actually been on an upswing in recent years despite the prevalence of plant-based products. The USDA predicts a record 222.2 pounds of beef and poultry will be consumed by each person in 2018, a number that hasn’t been this high since 2004. It’s also improbable that there’s a ton of consumer confusion when it comes to labeling, as companies clearly state whether their “meat” products are made from plants or not.
Plant-based producers aren’t going quietly in this battle, though, as Tofurky and The Good Food Institute (a plant-based advocacy group) have already launched a lawsuit against the state, saying that the law is an attack on their freedom of speech and commercial speech. They also claim that Missouri’s new legislation is unconstitutional for that reason.