Faux 'Meat' No More: Arkansas Becomes 6th State to Restrict Plant-Based Food Labels
By Nathan Owens
A package of food labeled "cauliflower rice" containing no actual rice will, later this year, be considered mislabeled in Arkansas and the manufacturer subject to a fine under a state law signed Monday.
HB1407, a bill led by Rep. David Hillman, R-Almyra, gained enough momentum through House and Senate committees the past two weeks to wind up on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk. He signed the bill Monday morning, creating Act 501.
The "truth in labeling" bill was filed about a month ago, and almost half of the states have entertained similar legislation that regulates the labeling of some food products, including foods called meat that are derived from plants or lab-grown cells of beef, pork or poultry.
"This law only affects people who want to deceive the public about how their food originated," Hillman said. "And if you're not trying to deceive the public, this will not affect you or any of the outlets who sell these products."
Arkansas is the sixth state to pass similar legislation into law, and the only one to include rice. Missouri, now defending itself against lawsuits because of a similar law, was the first.
Efforts to mandate labeling requirements at the state level for certain foods came from growing concerns in agricultural communities that shoppers are mistaking foods that claim to look, feel and taste like meat and poultry, for the real thing. Talks are being held at the federal level about proper labeling of such products, but nothing has been done yet.