The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana has ruled in favour of Tofurky, a plant-based food company represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and The Good Food Institute, in a lawsuit claiming that the Louisiana labelling law that prohibits certain terms to be used in plant-based alternatives is unconstitutional.
This 2020 law fines up to $500 per day for every plant-based company with marketing representation of plant-based meat products using terms like “burger” and “sausage.” The famous fake meat company Tofurky took legal action on 7th October 2020 claiming that was a violation of the First Amendment right of free speech, and the Louisiana court has now agreed. The lawsuit noted there is no evidence that current labels mislead consumers, and studies have shown that removing “meat” terms from plant-based meat product labels would cause consumer confusion where none existed before. Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and other states have passed similar label censorship laws, some of which are also being legally challenged. Other countries have also failed in this type of censorship.
Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director, said, “Louisiana’s labelling law was a clear and unconstitutional attempt to protect the animal agriculture industry from competition amidst the growing market for foods not derived from slaughtered or confined animals, which don’t carry the same risks to human health, animals, and the environment… Under the First Amendment, companies are entitled to market and label their products in truthful ways that consumers will recognize and that aligns with their values.”
Jaime Athos, Tofurky and Moocho, President and CEO, said, “Today’s ruling is a victory for the entire plant-based industry…The Louisiana court has seen right through the disingenuous pretext under which this law was passed, and rightfully intervened to protect the first amendment rights of companies like Tofurky and the rights of Louisianans to have unfettered access to the healthier, more sustainable foods of their choosing. The law was an obvious attempt to give unfair advantage to animal agriculture interests by stifling the growth of plant-based food sales, and this ruling serves as a warning to other state legislatures who may forget that they are elected to serve the needs of their constituents, not those of corporate special interests.”