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Go to Jail for Calling Fake Meat 'Meat'?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 08, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Most of us know what we're getting with a veggie or "garden" burger. Tofurky? Not that confusing. After all, the makers of vegetarian animal flesh alternatives would have a tough time reaching their target audience if those alternatives sounded too much like the real thing.

Still, the State of Missouri wants to save you from trying to eat meat and eating a plant instead. State lawmakers passed a bill that prohibits "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry." And if you call non-meat "meat," you could be facing a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

What Do You Mean by "Meat?"

"Meat", as defined by the new Missouri statute, is "any edible portion of livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof," and "meat products" are "anything containing meat intended for or capable of use for human consumption, which is derived, in whole or in part, from livestock or poultry." Seems pretty basic, right? So, think twice before you go selling your soy-based beef alternative as "MEATY MEAT MEAT PRODUCT."

Free Meat Speech

"No one who gets a veggie burger and bites into it is surprised when it's not slaughtered animal meat," according to ACLU attorney Tony Rothert. The ACLU claims Missouri's consumer protection bureau couldn't find a single complaint from people who had mistaken a meat alternative for the real deal. "The law is a solution to a nonexistent problem," Rothert told Mother Jones. "This is really about the government trying to control the words used to favor an industry."

Thus, the ACLU, along with plant-based meat alternative company Tofurky, are suing Missouri to block the law. In the meantime, you might want to watch what you say around cattle in the Show Me State.

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