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ACLU Enters Fake Meat Fray

As the fake meat versus real meat battle heats up, the “steaks are high,” claims an NPR article.

“A growing number of states have been passing laws saying that only foods made of animal flesh should be allowed to carry labels like “meat,” “sausage,” “jerky,” “burger” or “hot dog,” says the article.

The American Civil Liberties Union has joined a coalition claiming that the move to label the food correctly is actually censoring free speech and playing favorites with industries.

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The coalition sued Arkansas regarding the food label requirement. Similar lawsuits are pending against Missouri and Mississippi. Other states that have passed laws restricting “meatlike” labels for vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives made of plants include Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming. The restrictions also cover lab-grown meat from animal cells.

So, what’s the big deal? As the saying goes, follow the money.

“The debate over what gets to be called ‘beef’ or ‘pork’ is not just about quinoa burgers and tofu sausage. It's also about a future when grocery stores sell meat that looks and tastes like the real deal but is grown in a laboratory from animal cells. This future has the agricultural industry investing heavily in preparation, including the push to restrict how new meat alternatives can be marketed,” says the NPR article.

The battle lines are drawn, and the sides clearly defined. On one side is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association whose top 2019 policy priority is battling “false and deceptive marketing” of what the group calls simply – fake meat. “You don't have the right to mislead consumers into believing that they're buying one thing when they're actually buying something totally different,” said Cody Burkham, executive vice president of the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association.

On the other side is the ACLU, Tofurky, the Good Food Institute and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“If [plant-based makers] can't say that it's a black bean burger by using 'burger,' how are they to describe to the consumer what the product is?” said Holly Dickson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “This is not a law to protect consumers. Arkansans aren't confused about what a black bean or veggie burger or tofu dog are,” Dickson said. “The law is really designed to allow the government to censor truthful speech and give an advantage to animal-based manufacturers … and disadvantage to plant-based manufacturers.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation told NPR that its concern with new meat alternatives was about “claims of superiority about food products or methods of production” that may or may not be grounded in truth.

Aside from the arguments on providing consumers with accurate information on food labels, the most interesting aspect of the latest news is that an animal rights group has joined in the fray. This is further evidence of the ultimate goal of the promoters of the fake meat ideology – a totally meatless (read hunterless) society.





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