Upton’s Naturals Co. and the Plant Based Foods Association have filed a First Amendment challenge to Oklahoma’s law requiring manufacturers of plant-based meat products to include a disclaimer on the labels of products that are named after animal-derived products, such as “burgers.” Upton’s Naturals Co. v. Stitt, No. 20-0938 (W.D. Okla., filed September 16, 2020). The law, scheduled to take effect November 1, 2020, prohibits advertising “a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock” but allows plant-based items to comply with the regulation if they display, “in type that is uniform and size and prominence to the name of the product,” text informing consumers “that the product is derived from plant-based sources.” Regulated words include “pork,” “burgers,” “hot dogs,” “meatballs,” “jerky,” “sausages,” “chorizo,” “steak,” “bacon” and “corned beef.”

“The Act is unreasonable, unnecessary, does not advance any legitimate government interest, and is not tailored to any legitimate government interest,” the plaintiffs argue. “The Act does not address any real problem in a meaningful way. The Act is not in the public interest. The Act has no positive impact on society. Instead, the Act harms society.” The plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment stating that the law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as preliminary and permanent injunctions preventing enforcement of the act.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.