JACKSON, Miss. – The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and Illinois-based Upton’s Naturals, a member company, filed a federal lawsuit against Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and the state’s agriculture commissioner, Andy Gipson. The company and group say that a new law violates the First Amendment by banning producers of plant-based foods from using certain terms like “vegan bacon” and “meatless steaks.”
Plaintiffs in the case are also asking for an injunction against Mississippi’s ban that stops sellers of meat alternatives from using meat and meat product terms to describe their foods.
“The ban serves only to create consumer confusion where none previously existed,” the lawsuit said.
“In order to describe the foods in the clearest possible manner, Upton’s Naturals uses meat and meat product terms as part of the descriptions on its labels,” the suit continued.
Gipson responded on social media with the following statement:
Yesterday the State of Mississippi was sued in federal court by out-of-state interests seeking to block Mississippi’s new meat labeling law. My official statement attached pic.twitter.com/7T0Kj12OQu— Commissioner Andy Gipson (@CommAndyGipson) July 2, 2019
PBFA Executive Director Michele Simon defended the lawsuit saying it was restricting Upton’s ability to sell products in the state.
“This Mississippi law is the meat lobby’s response to growing consumer demand; they are attacking words on labels, instead of competing in the marketplace. Whatever happened to the free market?” Simon said. “The Mississippi law would create unnecessary, confusing, and costly label changes that would stifle innovation and frustrate consumers.”
The lawsuit in Mississippi said that Upton's Naturals does not make meat products but does use terms such as “vegan bacon,” “vegan burgers” and “vegan chorizo.”
According to the PBFA, eight meat labeling laws have been enacted across the country.