Mississippi will no longer ban calling veggie burgers “veggie burgers”

In response to a lawsuit, the state is revising its regulations.


By Kelsey Piper, Vox

Sep 6, 2019


It looks like Mississippi is backing down from its proposed law taking aim at meatless meat products in grocery stores.


The state in July had put into effect a law banning stores from labelling products as “veggie burgers,” or using a variety of other common labels like “vegan hot dog” or “tofu bacon.” The law was immediately challenged in court by the makers of meat alternatives.


But the state withdrew those regulations Thursday and proposed new ones that would allow those labels. Under the new regulations, veggie burgers are once more in the clear — along with any product that prominently displays a qualifier like “meat free,” “meatless,” “plant-based,” “veggie-based,” “made from plants,” “vegetarian,” or “vegan.”


Mississippi had justified its earlier prohibition as an attempt to avoid consumer confusion. Consumers seeing a label like “veggie burger” might get confused and think that these products contained beef or pork. But opponents of the law claimed that this was a smokescreen — and the real goal was to crush the plant-based foods that Mississippi farmers perceived as a threat. The First Amendment, they argued, protects labels like “veggie burger” as long as consumers aren’t confused.


“The new proposed regulation is a victory for the First Amendment and for common sense,” said attorney Justin Pearson of the Institute for Justice, which sued over the original veggie burger ban, in a press release.


The rise and fall of the veggie burger label bans


Mississippi isn’t the only state with a law banning the labelling of products as veggie burgers. Missouri led the way with a similar law last year, and Arkansas has since followed suit. Those cases are still making their way through the courts, however, which makes Mississippi the first state to back off from a veggie burger label ban...


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