The words are simple, really, to describe a complicated issue. Only meat should be labeled “meat,” says a new Mississippi law that went into effect in July.
The law “simply says that a plant-based food product shall not be labeled as meat or a meat food product,” said Andy Gibson, Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce told radio host Chip Flory on Agritalk last week. “Meat has a meaning—it has a value to our consumers and of course, to our farmers…I absolutely support the law and I intend to defend the law and to enforce it, according to its intent.”
The meaning of meat and meat food product is already defined under Mississippi law to include a food product for human consumption derived from the carcass of livestock.
What might seem like good common sense, Mississippi is not the only state working to define meat for label purposes. Missouri and Oklahoma are just two other states with meat labeling issues in the headlines, as plant-based foods businesses continue to grow in sales.
Mississippi legislature passed the law unanimously, but on July 1st, the day the measure went into effect, the state was notified of a lawsuit filed by the Plant Based Foods Association and Upton’s Naturals.
While the wheels of federal court turn slowly, Gibson says it’s confusing to understand what the other side’s goal is. From the complaint, Gibson said they want to use terms such as “meatless beef,” “vegan bacon,” and “meatless meatballs.”
“It seems to me that the folks who want to buy vegan burgers or whatever they are, that they would appreciate it not being labeled as meat or a meat food product,” he told Flory.
Listen to Gibson describe the long-term flooding situation in Mississippi, ahead of Hurricane Barry’s arrival.