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Mississippi: Veggie burgers must be clearly labeled

MGN Online

Mississippi is considering new rules that address food labeling terms like "veggie burger."

Posted: Sep 6, 2019 2:22 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is considering new rules that let companies continue to use food-labeling terms such as "veggie burger" and "vegan bacon," as long as the terms are prominently displayed so consumers understand the products are not meat.

The state agriculture department on Thursday proposed new regulations for plant-based products that are sold as alternatives to meat.

The regulations came in response to a lawsuit filed by a nonprofit organization advocating plant-based foods and an Illinois food company. The lawsuit was filed on July 1, the same day the state enacted a law saying that "a plant-based or insect-based food product shall not be labeled as meat or a meat food product."

Meat producers have been trying to protect meat terminology by pushing for state laws that restrict labeling of products such as meatless meatballs.

Makers of plant-based foods have also sued Missouri and Arkansas over labeling laws.

The proposed Mississippi regulations say terms such as "plant-based" must be clearly displayed on packaging of products such as vegetarian hot dogs. The rules will be open for public comment for nearly a month. Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson told The Associated Press on Friday that if there are no changes needed after the comment period, he will issue an order for the regulations to take effect.

"They're commonsense rules," Gipson said. "We're doing exactly what we intended to do."

Gipson said the regulations do not weaken the food labeling law, and he said terms like "veggie burger" were never going to be illegal. He said while many products are already clearly labeled, the law is aimed at those that are designed to deceive consumers.

"That whole lawsuit has been a waste of time," Gipson said. Speaking of groups that filed it, Gipson said: "They're just trying to raise money."

The lawsuit was filed by Plant Based Foods Association and Illinois-based Upton's Naturals Co., which makes vegan products and sells them in many states. Both are represented in the suit by the Mississippi Justice Institute and the Virginia-based Institute for Justice.

The lawsuit is still active, but the two groups issued statements Friday saying the proposed regulations are a victory for the First Amendment.

"It shouldn't be a crime for plant-based food companies to describe their products in a way that everyone understands," Mississippi Justice Institute director Arron Rice said.

Institute of Justice attorney Justin Pearson said: "Our lawsuit made it clear that subjecting plant-based food companies to possible criminal prosecution for using common terms on their labels would be a violation of their free speech rights."

The Mississippi law also says "cultured animal tissue" made in a lab from animal cells may not be labeled as meat or a meat product.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33591

Reported Deaths: 1204
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds264246
DeSoto176718
Madison135536
Jones115949
Neshoba101673
Harrison100312
Rankin99915
Lauderdale93781
Forrest92743
Scott78515
Jackson70417
Copiah62715
Washington62610
Leake59820
Lee57521
Holmes57041
Oktibbeha55728
Wayne55116
Warren54020
Yazoo5336
Grenada5227
Lowndes51513
Leflore50756
Lamar5007
Lincoln49234
Pike46617
Sunflower4368
Monroe43135
Lafayette4194
Covington3965
Panola3926
Bolivar37018
Attala36523
Simpson3603
Newton35210
Adams33218
Tate31912
Pontotoc3166
Marion30812
Chickasaw29119
Claiborne28910
Winston28210
Noxubee2738
Pearl River26932
Jasper2666
Marshall2643
Clay25111
Smith23412
Union23311
Coahoma2136
Clarke21125
Walthall2087
Lawrence1892
Yalobusha1838
Kemper17914
Carroll17111
Humphreys1569
Tallahatchie1564
Montgomery1432
Calhoun1425
Tippah14211
Itawamba1408
Hancock13413
Webster12811
Tunica1153
Jefferson1143
Jefferson Davis1144
Prentiss1113
Greene1089
Amite1043
George943
Wilkinson949
Tishomingo911
Quitman891
Alcorn762
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone722
Franklin472
Benton420
Sharkey400
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 48588

Reported Deaths: 1042
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5687161
Mobile4315136
Montgomery4275109
Tuscaloosa238248
Marshall181511
Madison16208
Lee146337
Shelby141424
Morgan11575
Baldwin10399
Walker101825
Elmore97519
Dallas9189
Franklin90616
Etowah83413
DeKalb7905
Chambers64727
Autauga64312
Butler63728
Tallapoosa60669
Russell5890
Unassigned53826
Houston5366
Limestone5251
Lauderdale5146
Cullman4905
Lowndes47922
Pike4525
Colbert4426
St. Clair4402
Escambia4358
Calhoun4035
Coffee3923
Covington38110
Bullock36910
Barbour3622
Jackson3432
Talladega3337
Dale3261
Marengo32011
Hale31722
Wilcox2958
Clarke2876
Sumter28512
Winston2773
Chilton2762
Blount2581
Monroe2442
Pickens2446
Marion24114
Randolph2289
Conecuh2187
Macon2029
Choctaw19912
Bibb1981
Greene1888
Perry1791
Henry1403
Crenshaw1253
Washington1217
Lawrence1130
Cherokee1117
Geneva860
Lamar801
Fayette721
Clay692
Coosa601
Cleburne391
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