Missouri is the first state to outlaw certain uses of the word "meat.:
KANSAS CITY – The Good Food Institute plans to appeal a ruling made by a federal judge earlier this month who refused to block a Missouri law that would ban companies from labeling products that were plant-based or meat substitutes as meat.
Jessica Almy, the Good Food Institute's policy director and attorney in the case, said the law is "unconstitutional censorship."
"While we are disappointed by this ruling, we are confident that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit will see this law for what it is: unconstitutional censorship," Almy said in a provided statement. "Missouri passed this law to protect established agriculture interests from competitive pressures, not to protect consumers."
Jessica Almy, policy director of the Good Food Institute | https://www.gfi.org/meet-gfi-policy-director-jessica-almy
U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. of the Western District of Missouri refused to issue a preliminary injunction that would stop officials from enforcing a specific law that says products can't be marketed as meat unless they specifically come from animals, according to the Associated Press.
The lawsuit involves Turtle Island Foods, which makes products with tofu, like Tofurky; the American Civil Liberties Union; and the Good Food Institute, who all argue that the law violates free-speech rights. They appealed the decision, the news agency reports.
"Our case is ultimately about the First Amendment’s protection of truthful speech," Almy said. "No government – including the state of Missouri – should be allowed to get away with using censorship to pick winners and losers in the marketplace."
The companies challenged the new law, which was approved by the legislature last year. The law gives the Missouri Department of Agriculture the power to look into possible labeling issues and refers those to the attorney general's office.
Several other states have similar laws, including Montana, South Dakota, Louisiana and Wyoming.
The Associated Press reported that both sides reached a tentative agreement last year, but a resolution was never fully reached between the two.