Politicians in Missouri have planted a stake over plant steaks.
On Tuesday, the state enacted the first law in the US that prohibits food manufacturers from using the word ‘meat’ to label anything that ‘is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry,’ according to HuffPost. Violators will reportedly be punished with a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
This comes as lab-engineered vegetarian meat gains in popularity. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods use plant-based alternatives to create faux meat that looks, smells and tastes similar to real meat.
Not everyone is happy about these meat substitutes. The US Cattlemen’s Association, a trade group made up of 10,000 ranchers, said the products could confuse consumers into buying vegetarian when they’re actually after real meat. The organization earlier in February asked the government by way of a 15-page petition to officially define ‘beef’ and ‘meat.’
The Missouri law requires all the lab meat manufacturers to remove ‘meat’ from their product labels. Vegetarian food maker Tofurky filed a lawsuit on Monday to defend labeling its products as meat, as long as the packaging tells consumers what the ingredients are, according to the Associated Press.
The Good Food Institute, a lobbying group for alternative meat, also reportedly expressed concern that the language of the Missouri law is vague and could mean a range of vegetarian products are targeted.
The US Cattlemen’s Association, Tofurky and the Good Food Institute didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.