US – The President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, signed an executive order on “Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy”, signaling a growth in the alt-meat industry in the country.

This executive order essentially creates a directive that resources should be spent on bolstering the development of sustainable food production.

This executive order will also help accelerate cellular agriculture efforts, to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce animal agriculture’s strain on the environment.

By promoting cell-based agriculture and cultivated meat production, the U.S. government will curb the negative effects of meat and dairy production, especially within the beef industry.

In line, the Arkansas state law prohibiting plant-based meat companies from using meat terminology on their product labels and marketing is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled late last month.

In her ruling, District Judge Kristine Baker found that Tofurky indicated its products were plant-based.

The company was not intending to be deceptive by using terminology like “burger,” “chorizo” and “hot dog” on its labels, and the terms served a purpose.

“The labels’ use of the words … permits Tofurky to convey meaningful, helpful information to consumers about the products they are purchasing, and Tofurky’s repeated indications that the food products contained in these packages contain no animal-based meat dispel consumer confusion,” the ruling states.

The judge found that the arguments and evidence, the state produced had no proof that consumers were confused about Tofurky’s products.

The state law in Arkansas was not only controversial for its prohibitions — manufacturers could not use any terminology that was commonly associated with meat unless it came from harvested or domesticated animals.

Any company that went against the law was subject to punishment — a penalty of up to US$1,000 for each violation.

Tofurky further argued that while the violations of the law could be extremely costly, they would also be financially prohibitive.

Considering the nature of food distribution and consumers freely moving from state to state, Tofurky would either have to change all of its packaging and marketing nationwide or stop distributing its products anywhere near Arkansas.

Similarly, a federal judge in Louisiana found earlier this year that a state law prohibiting meat terminology on products, not from animal carcasses is unconstitutional. The state has however appealed the ruling.

Another federal judge ruled last year that California could not prohibit plant-based cheese and butter maker Miyoko’s Creamery from using common dairy terms on its products because there was no proof of consumer confusion.

And a 2019 lawsuit challenging a Mississippi labeling law was voluntarily dismissed after the law was revised to only require that plant-based foods are labeled as such.

The legal challenges are also playing out in Oklahoma and Missouri, both of which passed state laws making some prohibitions on the labeling of plant-based products.

Missouri’s law was the first in the country that would limit plant-based meat labeling, and it was challenged in 2018 by the same plaintiffs in the Arkansas case. It is still pending, though courts have failed to put enforcement of the law on hold.

The Oklahoma law, which requires a plant-based claim to be on food packages that is the same size and prominence as the product name, was first challenged by Upton’s Naturals in 2020. Tofurky took over as the lead plaintiff with a new strategy last year.

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