Days after Joint FDA/USDA Meeting on Cell Culture Technology, GFI and Others Request Preliminary Injunction on Missouri Law Banning Use of “Meat” on Plant-Based Product Labels
As previously reported on this blog, the Good Food Institute (GFI), the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, and Turtle Island Foods (Tofurky brand) sued the state of Missouri over a new law, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 265.494(7), which prohibits labeling a product that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry as meat. No other state has enacted a similar law.
- In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on August 27, 2018, the plaintiffs argue that, “the Statute is a content-based, overbroad, and vague criminal law that prevents the sharing of truthful information and impedes competition by plant-based and clean-meat companies in the marketplace.” Furthermore, they claim that the Statute does not protect the public from potentially misleading information and, therefore, violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
- On October 30, those plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Central Division. The groups argued that the law should not be enforced until there has been a legal ruling on whether the statute is constitutional. Plantiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction comes just days after a joint FDA/USDA meeting to discuss the use of cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry. While it is still unclear which agency will take the lead in the regulation of cell-culture meat products, with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue stating there should be “bright lines” in carving out rules for FDA and USDA, it is without question that those agencies are moving toward regulation of these products at the federal level. Oversight and regulation at the federal level may likely impact the Missouri law, so we will continue to report on regulatory activity in this area.