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The law, which was supported by meat industry representatives, came into effect this week. It decrees that only products ‘derived from harvested production livestock or poultry’ can be called meat – meaning plant-based meat as well as clean-meat must be labeled differently. Breaking the law could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in jail.
The law follows the increasing popularity of these products, but meat industry figures claim they simply do not want to confuse consumers.
The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) said: “MCA will not stand for laboratory-grown food or plant-based meat alternatives to be marketed as something it’s not.
“Making sure that consumers knew what they were buying was the whole intent. You cannot market a station wagon as a Porsche.”
Vegan charity PETA believes the new law has been ‘prompted by a panic attack in the meat industry over the astounding rise of vegan foods, including taste-alikes’.
The charity plans to place a billboard in Jefferson City and Columbia ‘showing consumers exactly what they’re getting’. The boards will feature a cow’s bloody head are the words: “Meet Your Meat. The Truth Hurts. Go Vegan.”
PETA President, Ingrid Newkirk: “Missouri’s new law is a desperate and fruitless attempt to fight the skyrocketing popularity of humane vegan foods. PETA message is that if the meat industry truly wanted informed consumers, it would put video cameras in every slaughterhouse and crowded, filthy cattle pen.”
‘Freedom of speech’
Others have argued the law violates freedom of speech. A statement from the Animal Legal Defense Fund said: “As more and more consumers are making the conscious choice to remove animals from their plates, Missouri is putting its thumb on the scale to unfairly benefit the meat industry and silence alternative producers.
“This law violates various constitutional principles, including free speech – which should be a concern for everyone, regardless of diet.”
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is one of four organizations – including the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, The Good Food Institute, and Tofurky – which have filed a legal challenge in federal court in response to the new law. They say it ‘attempts to stifle the growing grocery category of plant-based meat’.