Missouri Law Protects Buyers from Unknowingly Purchasing ‘Fake Meat’
But a legal battle is heating up
On July 28, 2018, a bill went into effect in Missouri that prohibits companies from “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” 
The bill, introduced in May, protects buyers from unwittingly purchasing plant-based products marketed as meat. The law applies to meat substitutes, such as soy-based and plant-based meat, as well as “clean” meat grown in the lab that is close to hitting the market.
Companies that violate the law face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
The issue, however, is far from over.
Four organizations – Tofurky, the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLUM), and the Animal Legal Defense Fund – have already sued the state, seeking an injunction to block the law from being enforced. Both sides claim they’re trying to do what is best for buyers who want to know the precise ingredients that go into their meat. 
Namely, is it really meat?
The groups accuse the state of stifling competition from producers in the plant-based protein industry.
Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement: 
“As more and more consumers are making the conscious choice to remove animals from their plates, Missouri is putting its thumb on the scale to unfairly benefit the meat industry and silence alternative producers. This law violates various constitutional principles, including free speech – which should be a concern for everyone, regardless of diet.”
In a statement, the office of Missouri’s attorney general said that “it would seek to defend the constitutionality of state statutes.” 
Products like veggie burgers are nothing new, but the products’ growing popularity has triggered a fierce debate over how they should be identified. 
Meat-substitute advocates say that meat-substitute producers follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules governing the way food products are represented.
The law has technically gone into effect, and the state is ready to enforce it, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office said.
Spokeswoman Mary Compton said:
“The attorney general’s office will carefully review all referrals from the Department of Agriculture and will take legal action as appropriate under the circumstances to protect Missouri consumers.”
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.