Last week, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Oklahoma challenging a state law regarding labeling alternative or fake meat products. During the 2020 Oklahoma Legislative Session, Rep. Toni Hasenbeck and Sen. Micheal Bergstrom authored HB 3806, the Oklahoma Meat Consumer Protection Act. This bill was a lead priority for the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association in the 2020 Legislative Session and, working with the Oklahoma Pork Council, the bill overwhelmingly passed through the House and Senate to the Governor's desk to become state law.
OCA and Oklahoma Pork Council issued the following joint statement this week:
"We believe if a product wants to pass itself as beef, pork or meat, then it must be properly labeled so consumers will know exactly what they are purchasing. This language clarifies that 'beef' must come from cattle, that 'pork' must come from a pig, and that 'meat' must come from livestock. We look forward to working with the State of Oklahoma in defending this commonsense law."
HB 3806 states that the definition of "pork" means the flesh of a porcine animal and "pork products" means a product or byproduct produced in whole or in part from pork.
According to The Oklahoman, the lawsuit is being led by Chicago-based Upton's Naturals, which labels its products as "100% vegan." The company opposes the law requiring producers include a label on packages saying the product is plant-based and claims the law violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. Upton's is joined by the Plant Based Foods Association and Institute of Justice in the lawsuit.
"Oklahoma is treating safe and healthy plant-based meat alternatives like they are cigarettes," says IJ Attorney Milad Emam. "This new law won't tell consumers anything they don't already know, but it will have a devastating effect on vegan and vegetarian food companies, since their perfectly honest and understandable labels will now be illegal in Oklahoma. This law, which was passed to prevent competition with the meat industry, clearly violates the First Amendment."