Challenging Arkansas’ Meat Labeling Law
Turtle Island Foods v. Soman
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a federal lawsuit challenging an Arkansas law that prohibits plant-based and cultivated-meat producers from, among other things, using “meat” terminology because their products do not come from a slaughtered animal.
Arkansas' law ruled unconstitutional
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and coalition partners filed a successful lawsuit in Arkansas challenging the constitutionality of a state law prohibiting plant-based and cultivated-meat producers from, among other things, using “meat” terminology because their products do not come from a slaughtered animal.
Enacted in 2019, the Arkansas law was a brazen attempt to stifle the growing demand for plant-based protein products as well as the coming availability of cultivated meat — meat made directly from animal cells without the need for raising and slaughtering animals. Producers who sell products like “veggie sausage” or “turkey-style deli slices” would have been penalized $1,000 for each individual product sold in the state.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed this lawsuit in coalition with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Arkansas, The Good Food Institute, and plant-based meat producer Tofurky because the law violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, the Dormant Commerce Clause, the Supremacy Clause, and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In September 2022, a federal judge ruled that the Arkansas law is unconstitutional — a win for consumers and animal-free food producers alike. Reflecting on the victory, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells observed that “[t]he industrial animal agriculture industry goes to great lengths to deter and disadvantage innovative food producers that demonstrate an evolution of our food system is not only possible — it’s profitable. This should be yet another wake-up call for legislators to stop putting animal agriculture’s corporate interests in front of constituents’ constitutional rights and the public’s interests in protecting animals and the environment.”
Who is being sued, why, and under what law? The state of Arkansas under the U.S. Constitution. Our lawsuit argues that the law violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, the Dormant Commerce Clause, and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
What court is the lawsuit filed in? U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
Why this case is important: More and more consumers are rejecting animal products — which rely on intense animal cruelty — in favor of plant-based alternatives. These plant-based products, along with future cell-based products, present a growing threat to the market share of conventional meat products from slaughtered animals. But instead of responding to the demand for sustainably-produced products, the meat industry is attempting to use state legislatures to criminalize truthful speech under the guise of protecting consumers from “confusion.” However, no evidence supports the claim that consumers are or would otherwise be confused by plant- or cell-based meat products. The true aim of Arkansas’ law is to protect the animal agriculture industry by putting in place unconstitutional barriers that impede innovation by plant- and cell-based producers.
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Tofurky and Plant Based Foods Association Team Up to Challenge Unconstitutional Oklahoma Censorship Label LawLawsuit asserts the law creates a patchwork of standards that threaten to preclude nationwide sales for plant-based meat producersNovember 10, 2021 Press Release
Turtle Island Foods v. Richardson
Tofurky v. Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry
Barnes v. Tillamook