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Tofurky Says Arkansas Is Censoring Their Packaging With Meat Labeling Laws

by Rudy Sanchez on 07/24/2019 | 2 Minute Read

The debate over meat labeling has grown, with many states such as Louisiana following Missouri’s lead in creating laws that restrict the use of the term “meat” to products with animal-derived flesh.

A lawsuit filed against Arkansas’ similar meat law was filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Good Food Institute and the Animal Defense Fund on behalf of the makers of Tofurky contending that the Arkansas law violates the First Amendment by censoring legitimate claims on their label and the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause.

Arkansas’ poultry production provides over 150,000 jobs and is a $3.8 billion industry in the state, a significant contributor to The Natural State’s economy. It is also home to Tyson Foods, one of the largest processors of chicken, beef and pork.

Editorial photograph

Image: Wait, that's not meaty-meat???

Proponents of meat label laws argue that the labeling restriction is necessary as plant-based meats grow in popularity and similarity to flesh-meat, with meat producers worried consumers would confuse tofu hot-dogs and faux-burgers for beef, chicken, pork and other critters.

The plaintiffs state that there’s no evidence that alt-meats are misleading consumers into believing their products are animal-based, adding that Tofurky’s label asserts that it is plant-based, meatless, vegetarian or vegan.

Jaime Athos, CEO of Tofurky, says they aren’t just making tasty plant-based protein, they believe not eating meat is an ethical choice, a stand against the inherent cruelty in raising and slaughtering animals for food.

“When you think about all the things that define a culture, cuisine is high on the list. Food reflects not only the aesthetic preferences of a given place but also the moral and ethical ideals to which it subscribes,” Athos said in an interview with Good Food Institute, a non-profit that promotes plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy and eggs, as well as “clean meat,” otherwise known as cultured or lab-grown meat.

Consumers are also deliberately choosing to substitute the eating of animals with plant-based meat for health and issues concerning sustainability. A recent study by Barclay’s estimates that the market for alt-meats could reach over $140 billion over the next decade, a finding that weakens the claim that consumers confuse the fake stuff for the real McCoy.