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‘Veggie’ burgers remain legal as new regulations take effect

New regulations went into effect today that will allow vegan and vegetarian companies to continue using meat product terms on their labels.

In July, vegan food company Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) filed a First Amendment lawsuit challenging a Mississippi law that would have banned plant-based food companies from using meat product terms like “burger,” “bacon,” and “hot dog” on their packaging. Upton’s Naturals and PBFA were represented by the Institute for Justice and by the Mississippi Justice Institute serving as local counsel.

In August, the parties to the lawsuit advised the court that they were engaging in negotiations that might lead to the adoption of new regulations and the resolution of the case. Those negotiations ultimately led to the withdrawal of proposed regulations that would have implemented the ban, and the adoption of new regulations.

“These new regulations are a victory for free speech in Mississippi,” said Aaron Rice, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute. “Consumers understands that products labeled with terms like ‘vegetarian burger’ are plant-based foods. Our clients can now continue using labels that are best understood by their customers without risking potential criminal prosecution.”

Under the new regulations, plant-based foods will not be considered to be labeled as a “meat” or “meat food product” if the label also includes “meat-free,” “meatless,” “plant-based,” “vegetarian,” “vegan,” or similar terms.

Because the new regulations adopted in response to the lawsuit will allow companies to continue using meat product terms on their labels, Upton’s Naturals and PBFA have dropped their lawsuit.

— Mississippi Justice Institute

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