Injunction to Stop Enforcement of Meat Labeling Law Not Needed, Says AR
As our readers are aware, a number of states have enacted laws to prohibit marketing a product as “meat” if it is not derived from livestock or poultry and that several of these laws—including ones in Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas—have been challenged in court. (Other states that have enacted similar laws include Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.)
The Arkansas Truth in Labeling Law (Act 501) includes the following definitions:
Beef: the flesh of a domesticated bovine, such as a steer or cow, that is edible by humans
Pork: the flesh of a domesticated swine that is edible by humans
Poultry: domestic birds that are edible by humans
Under this law, misbranding or misrepresenting an agricultural product can result in a fine of up to $1,000. As we previously reported on this blog, two days before the Arkansas law was scheduled to become effective, on July 22, 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Good Food Institute, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Tofurky filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas claiming that Act 501 violated the First and Fourteenth amendments.
Earlier this month, the Plaintiffs asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the law while the case is being decided (see Turtle Island Foods, SPC doing business as The Tofurky Company v. Nikhil Soman, in his official capacity as Director of the Arkansas Bureau of Standards, Case No. 4:19-cv-514-KGB). In response to Tofurky’s request, the Arkansas Attorney General’s office explained that since the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the labeling law was filed before the law was scheduled to take effect, the Arkansas Bureau of Standards decided not to enforce it yet and, therefore, there is no threat of irreparable harm to support an injunction (Vox Media).
U.S. sales of plant-based meat grew 37.1% between April 2017 and April 2019 to reach $801 million in the year ending in April 2019, reports the Good Food Institute. We will continue to monitor and report on legal and regulatory activity in this area.