The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas has blocked a law prohibiting Tofurky from using terms like “burger” and “sausage” on its labels when accompanied by qualifiers such as “vegan” or “plant-based.” The court found that the law unconstitutionally limited Tofurky’s commercial free speech rights.
Arkansas is one of several states that sought to ban the use of meat-related terminology on labels of plant-based and cultivated meat products. Proponents of the laws say that meat-related terms lead to customer confusion, while opponents view the laws as unconstitutional attempts to protect the animal agriculture industry from competition.
In her order, Judge Kristine G. Baker wrote that the state did not provide any evidence of customer confusion around plant-based meat alternatives and that “Tofurky’s repeated indications that the food products contained in these packages contain no animal-based meat dispel consumer confusion.”
“The State appears to believe that the simple use of the word ‘burger,’ ‘ham,’ or ‘sausage’ leaves the typical consumer confused, but such a position requires the assumption that a reasonable consumer will disregard all other words found on the label,” she wrote.
Earlier this year, a court halted a similar law in Louisiana, and lawsuits are pending in other states as well.