For the last few years a cold war has been brewing in the world of food-labeling. Sensing the oncoming market disruption from alternative and plant-based meat substitutes, traditional meat-producing industries have been lobbying to pass laws regulating what can, or cannot, be called meat. The mission has so far been reasonably successful, with a number of US states passing laws limiting certain terminology to highly specific sources.
At the start of July, for example, the state of Mississippi instituted a new law stating, “any food product containing cell-cultured animal tissue or plant-based or insect-based food shall not be labeled meat or as a meat product.”
The law was not as simple as disallowing plant-based products from being called meat but more broadly included meat-related terms. So now, in the state of Mississippi, you cannot call a “veggie burger” a burger.
Arkansas is another state pushing through new food labeling laws. Republican David Hillman is one of the primary sponsors of the Arkansas bill, which was passed earlier in 2019, but only goes into effect later this month. Hillman suggests the fundamental goal of the new law is to protect consumers from products with intentionally misleading labels.
The act, subsequently titled “An Act to Require Truth in Labeling of Agricultural Products That Are Edible by Humans,” is perhaps the most extraordinarily far-reaching food-labeling law in this new wave of pro-animal product regulations. The Arkansas law doesn’t just cover animal-based meat products, but also includes all dairy, horticultural, viticultural, and even bee-related, products. So technically, the new Arkansas regulation outlaws every kind of milk that doesn’t come from an animal, and even goes so far as to include vegetable-based grain alternatives, such as cauliflower rice.