Challenging Arkansas’ Meat Labeling Law

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a federal lawsuit challenging an Arkansas law that prohibits plant- and cell-based meat producers from, among other things, using “meat” terminology because their products do not come from a slaughtered animal.

Updated

July 22, 2019

Work Type

Litigation

Status

Active

Filed July 22, 2019

Next Step

Arkansas's answer

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is part of a coalition that filed a lawsuit in Arkansas challenging the constitutionality of a state law that prevents plant- and cell-based meat producers from, among other things, using “meat” terminology because their products do not come from a slaughtered animal.

Enacted in 2019, Arkansas’ law is a brazen attempt to stifle the growing demand for plant-based protein products as well as the coming availability of cell-based 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 be penalized $1,000 for each product they’ve 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.

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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