Defenders of vegan bacon sue Mississippi over labeling law

The star marks Mississippi's capital city, Jackson.

A federal lawsuit says Mississippi is violating free-speech rights by banning makers of plant-based foods from using terms such as "meatless meatballs" and "vegan bacon."

Posted: Jul 2, 2019 2:19 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal lawsuit says Mississippi is violating free-speech rights by banning makers of plant-based foods from using terms such as "meatless meatballs" and "vegan bacon."

The lawsuit against Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and the state's Republican agriculture commissioner, Andy Gipson, was filed Monday by the Plant Based Foods Association and the Illinois-based Upton's Naturals Co. , which makes vegan products and sells them in many states, including Mississippi. It was filed the same day Mississippi enacted a new law that declares "a plant-based or insect-based food product shall not be labeled as meat or a meat food product."

"The ban serves only to create consumer confusion where none previously existed," says the lawsuit, which is backed by the Institute for Justice, a free-market advocacy group based in Virginia.

A similar food labeling lawsuit was filed in Missouri last year by the Oregon-based Tofurky Co., which makes vegetarian food products, and The Good Food Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for alternatives to meat. A Missouri law made it a misdemeanor to label plant-based products as meat.

Producers of beef, poultry, pork and lamb have been pushing to protect meat terminology as companies develop more plant-based products that look and taste similar to meat.

In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a law to keep veggie products from being called meat, non-rice products from being described as rice and sugar alternatives from being marketed as sugar. It becomes law in October 2020.

The chairman of the Mississippi Senate Agriculture Committee, Republican Billy Hudson of Hattiesburg, was chief sponsor of the meat labeling legislation. He said the state agriculture department and the Mississippi Cattlemen's Association pushed for it because of concerns that consumers could be misled. The Mississippi law also says food produced using animal tissue cultured in a laboratory may not be labeled as meat.

"They tell me that fake steak looks just like our real meat," Hudson told The Associated Press on Monday. He said if a consumer sees two similar products side by side, they could think they're getting meat when they're not.

"I don't want to eat meat grown by a test tube in a laboratory," Hudson said. "If my constituents do, they ought to know what they're getting."

The lawsuit in Mississippi says that Upton's Naturals does not make meat products but does use terms such as "vegan burgers," ''vegan bacon" and "vegan chorizo."

"These terms, as used by Upton's Naturals, increase consumer understanding of the foods' characteristics and communicate how the foods should be prepared and eaten," the lawsuit says.

The Plant Based Foods Association says in the lawsuit that "no reasonable consumer would be misled" by terms such as "meatless steaks" and "vegan jerky."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31257

Reported Deaths: 1114
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds253640
DeSoto162016
Madison131434
Jones112849
Neshoba99271
Rankin95112
Harrison93311
Lauderdale91079
Forrest87842
Scott77315
Jackson63816
Copiah60715
Washington5919
Leake57819
Holmes55741
Lee55219
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51618
Yazoo5136
Lowndes49413
Leflore49151
Grenada4905
Lincoln46634
Lamar4657
Pike44112
Monroe40330
Sunflower4008
Lafayette3934
Attala36123
Covington3595
Panola3526
Bolivar34014
Newton3399
Simpson3233
Adams31318
Pontotoc2926
Tate28810
Marion28411
Chickasaw27918
Claiborne27910
Noxubee2678
Winston2666
Jasper2636
Pearl River25732
Clay25111
Marshall2343
Smith21811
Union2109
Clarke20724
Walthall2045
Coahoma2016
Kemper17914
Lawrence1782
Yalobusha1737
Carroll16611
Humphreys1509
Tallahatchie1374
Itawamba1368
Montgomery1352
Calhoun1324
Tippah13111
Hancock13013
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1124
Jefferson1083
Prentiss1083
Greene1058
Tunica1053
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George893
Tishomingo831
Quitman780
Choctaw744
Alcorn712
Perry674
Stone651
Franklin452
Benton380
Sharkey380
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 45263

Reported Deaths: 1007
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
Baldwin8949
Dallas8919
Etowah75013
DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
Tallapoosa60569
Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
Limestone5010
Lauderdale4966
Lowndes47221
Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
Talladega3177
Hale31421
Marengo31211
Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
Conecuh2107
Randolph2099
Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1117
Lawrence1100
Cherokee1027
Geneva830
Lamar781
Fayette711
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne381
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 94°
Columbus
Few Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 91°
Oxford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 90°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 82°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather