Late last summer, Missouri amended its meat advertising laws to prohibit marketers from promoting non-meat products as "meat."  The amended law prohibits marketers from "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry."  According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture ("MDA"), Missouri is "the first state to take steps to prevent misrepresentation of products as meat that are not derived from livestock or poultry."  (Earlier this month, we wrote about the use of term "milk" for non-dairy products.)

What does this mean for soy-based and other meat substitutes?  Is using the term "meat" off the table?  Not necessarily.  The MDA issued a memorandum saying that, in its opinion, non-meat products that use the term "meat" on the label do not violate the law if the product contains the following:  

  • A prominent statement on the front of the package, immediately before or immediately after the product name, that the product is "plant-based," "veggie," "lab-grown," "lab-created," or a comparable qualifier; and
  • A prominent statement on the package that the product is "made from plants," "grown in a lab," or a comparable disclosure.

The MDA also said that, in order to give companies time to make necessary label changes, it would not refer any labels for enforcement until January 1, 2019. 

The good news here, for marketers of meat-alternative products, is that the DMA is not taking the position that the word "meat" is out, but is asking whether the use of the term is misleading -- and is giving concrete advice about how to avoid enforcement action.