The Show Me State may need to tweak its nickname. America, meet the Show Meat State.
On Tuesday, Missouri enacted the first law in the nation prohibiting food producers from using the word “meat” to describe anything “that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry,” the measure reads. Anyone who runs a-fowl of the new rules risks a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
State lawmakers and industry trade groups contend the law isn’t pork barrel and was necessary to protect Missourians from being misled by meat alternatives.
“The big issue was marketing with integrity and ... consumers knowing what they’re getting,” Mike Deering, a spokesman for the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, told USA Today. “There’s so much unknown about this.”
The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association is lobbying for a similar law at the federal level.
The law puts the heat on plant-based meat alternatives and lab-grown clean meat producers, which now must strike “meat” from their marketing materials.
The Oregon-based manufacturer of Tofurky filed a lawsuit in Missouri on Monday to overturn the law, arguing that it is too vague and could be applied to vegetarian items that use terms like “sausage” and “hot dogs,” which are essential to describing its products, the AP reports.
Tofurky was joined in its effort by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU of Missouri and the Good Food Institute, a trade group that represents producers of lab-grown meat and veggie-based alternatives.
“All of these products that are currently on the market use descriptors that say what the source of the ingredients [is] ... you’re going to find something that says soy-based vegan beef crumbles,” the GFI’s director of policy, Jessica Almy told NPR. “These compound names, like plant-based chicken, communicate to consumers what the source of the food is.”