The bill would have updated the Mississippi Code of 1972 to provide that “a plant-based or insect-based food product shall not be labeled as a meat or meat food product; and for related purposes.” It also proposed the same restrictions on cell-cultured (a.k.a. cultivated’) meat (which is not yet on the market).
After the PBFA and member company Upton’s Naturals filed a lawsuit challenging the rule on First Amendment grounds, the bill was revised to permit meaty terms on plant-based products provided brands use appropriate qualifiers such as ‘meat-free,’ ‘meatless,’ ‘plant-based,’ ‘vegetarian,’ or ‘vegan.’
“This is a total victory,” claimed Justin Pearson at the Institute for Justice, who served as the lead attorney for the challengers, and noted that there are already consumer protection laws in Mississippi that prohibit misleading commercial advertising.
“Our clients simply wanted to continue using clear labels with the terms consumers understand best. In response to our lawsuit, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture has done the right thing, so there is no need to move forward with the lawsuit.”
Michele Simon, PBFA’s executive director, said: “We hope that other states considering similar legislation will follow Mississippi’s lead in allowing clear qualifying terms that our members are already using to communicate to consumers.”
*The case is: Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association v Phil Bryant, in his official capacity as Mississippi Governor; and Andy Gipson, as Mississippi commissioner of agriculture and commerce. 3:19-cv-00462