The Tofurky Company recently sued the State of Arkansas, arguing that the state's new meat labeling law -- which it says prohibits marketers of plant-based meats from using words such as "meat," "beef," "pork," "roast" and "sauage" -- is unconstitutional.  The new law went into effect on July 24, 2019. 

Arkansas' new meat labeling law prohibits labeling practices such as:

  • Representing an agricultural product as a "meat" or a "meat product" when the product is not derived from harvested livestock, poultry, or deer; 
  • Representing that an agricultural product is rice when it is not rice; and
  • Representing that a product is "beef" or "pork" when it is not derived from domesticated bovine or swine.

Arguing that there is no evidence that consumers are confused about the ingredients or source of plant-based meats, Tofurky alleged that the new law is an unconstitutional restriction on commercial speech because it prevents companies from sharing truthful and non-misleading information about their products and does nothing to protect the public from potentially misleading information.  Tofurky wrote that the law, "creates consumer confusion where none existed before in order to impede competition."  

We'll be watching this case closely to see how it develops.  Arkansas is one of many states -- including, for example, South Carolina, Missouri, and Mississippi -- that has recently passed laws restricting how plant-based meats can be labeled.