Judge declines to block fake-meat law; appeal is filed

A federal judge has declined to block a Missouri law that bans companies from labeling plant-based meat products or meat substitutes as meat, per the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. said last week that he wouldn’t issue a preliminary injunction to stop Missouri agriculture officials from enforcing the law, which says a product cannot be marketed as meat unless it comes from an animal with two or four feet, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The law, which was approved by the Legislature in 2018, gives the Missouri Department of Agriculture the power to investigate and refer potential labeling violations to the Attorney General’s office or a county prosecutor.

Turtle Island Foods, which produces Tofurky products, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Good Food Institute, appealed the decision on Wednesday. They argue the law violates their free-speech rights.

Supporters contend they are trying to protect the products raised by ranchers, pork producers, and chicken and turkey farmers during a time when plant-based products are increasing in popularity.

The two sides of the dispute reached a tentative agreement last year, but the talks broke down in July, and no final resolution was reached.