Miyoko’s Preliminary Injunction Granted to Retain Labels without Threat of Enforcement as Case Continues
The lawsuit challenges unconstitutional restrictions placed on plant-based dairy producer Miyoko’s
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has granted a preliminary injunction that allows Miyoko’s Creamery (Miyoko’s) to maintain its labeling as-is while the case proceeds without fear of enforcement by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Animal Legal Defense Fund had filed the motion for preliminary injunction in June 2020.
The lawsuit was prompted by the CDFA’s decision to send an enforcement letter instructing the company to stop using terms like “dairy” and “butter” on its products — even with qualifiers like “vegan” and “made with plants.” The agency even instructed the mission-driven company to remove the image of a sanctuary volunteer hugging a rescue cow on its website.
The lawsuit, filed in February 2020, argues that the CDFA’s application of federal regulations is an unconstitutional violation of Miyoko’s right to free speech. The agency’s action is an attempt to censor speech, violating the First Amendment by restricting truthful commercial speech.
“Whether it’s taking on unconstitutional Ag-Gag laws or challenging attempts to limit free speech through censorship, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has time and again worked to protect our first amendment rights,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The judge’s decision today ensures that Miyoko’s can continue to share the company’s values of compassion toward animals with its customers while we continue to litigate the case on their behalf.”
The dairy industry claims that terms like “cultured vegan butter” and “plant-based cheese” on plant-based dairy products confuses consumers, yet there is no evidence to support these claims. For years, the conventional dairy industry has attempted to undermine its plant-based competitors by making these arguments under the guise of protecting against consumer confusion. Increasingly, consumers are avoiding animal-based dairy due to the immense animal suffering, environment damage, and threat it poses human health and welfare.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been at the forefront of demanding fair oversight of plant-based foods in the face of aggressive lobbying by animal agribusiness — which has attempted to strongarm state and federal lawmakers and regulatory agencies into prohibiting plant-based products from using commonly understood terms in their marketing and packaging.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is working to ensure these unconstitutional laws are struck down and that plant-based and dairy products, along with cultivated meat products — meat produced from animals’ cells, without having to raise and slaughter animals — have equal footing in the marketplace. The organization currently represents the interests of both plant-based and cultivated meat producers in lawsuits in Missouri and Arkansas that challenge unconstitutional product labeling restrictions.
Deepak Gupta and Neil Sawhney from the firm Gupta Wessler are co-counsel in this lawsuit.
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