A change to proposed regulations filed for plant-based food products in Mississippi

Updated: Sep. 6, 2019 at 7:31 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The original concern of makers of plant-based foods was that they wouldn’t be able to use terms like “meatless meatballs” or “veggie burger”. Agriculture commissioner Andy Gipson says there was always a misunderstanding of the intent.

“Nobody’s ever tried to outlaw veggie burgers," explained Gipson. “They were just spewing a bunch of hogwash.”

The newly proposed regulations delete the section that said those products couldn’t be labeled with a word or phrase that’s “customarily associated” with meat or a meat food product. Mississippi Justice Institute Director Aaron Rice says their client is pleased with that change.

“We didn’t know how that was going to be implemented or interpreted," noted Rice. "It’s a pretty broad category. Even the term and definition of meat food products included things that historically that had been associated with the meat food industry.”

The proposed regulations say as long as words like “meatless”, “veggie-based” or made from plants” are on the front of the package---they won’t be violating the law.

“Instead of trying to figure out what’s customary and so forth, we’ll just add a false or misleading section," said Gipson. "So, bottom line, a package cannot mislead consumers into thinking something meat that’s not meat.”

The lawsuit is still active and they’ll decide if it can be dismissed once the regulations are approved.

“This is a good fix that will allow vegan and vegetarian companies to decide how they want to market their products as long as it’s not misleading,” added Rice.

There will be a 25 day comment period for anyone who takes issues with the regulations.

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