Have you ever found yourself in the uncomfortable situation where someone serves you a burger, hotdog or sausage and you bite into it, only to find out that it’s made of disgusting tofu or some other soy/veggie compound? Missouri has enacted a law which may not stop that from happening at your buddy’s house (yet) but at least you won’t be fooled in the store or restaurant. Under the new rules, selling something which didn’t come from an actual specimen of livestock or poultry and labeling it in a way which implies that it’s meat can result in a fine or even jail time. May I please get an “Amen” from the choir? (US News)

VEGETARIAN FOOD COMPANY Tofurkey has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Missouri’s first-in-the-nation law regulating how food manufacturers use the word “meat.”

Aimed at meat-alternative manufacturers that label plant-based products made from tofu, soy or tempeh as meat, the state’s new law forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” It defines meat as edible products coming from livestock or poultry carcass intended for human consumption.

The bill was signed into law on June 1 by then-Gov. Eric Greitens and went into effect Tuesday. Under its provisions, labeling products as meat that do not fit the state’s definition could lead to fines and prison time.

So what is “Tofurkey’s” chief complaint here? They’re saying the law is too “vague” and would cause them to have to change all of their packaging to sell it in Missouri. To the first count I say, it’s not vague at all and you don’t even need to be a lawyer to understand it. Either the product was harvested from a pig, cow, sheep or other livestock or recognized poultry such as chickens, turkeys, ducks etc. or it wasn’t. If it was, you’re fine. If it’s not, you need to change the name. As to having to change all of your packaging, that’s sort of the idea.

But as it turns out, the soy/tofu peddlers aren’t even the real target of the legislation. Missouri is more worried about the advent of “meat” grown in a laboratory. It goes by various names such as cultured meat, synthetic meat or (just to really send a chill down your spine) in vitro meat. It comes from actual animal cells originally, so I suppose it technically is meat. Sort of? Well, it’s closer than tofu, anyway.

Ranchers and farmers are concerned that these test tube and bunsen burner burgers might be passed off in the store as actual farm raised beef. That’s not to say people shouldn’t be able to eat it if they want, and the day may come when it’s one of the only options left except for the extremely wealthy. (We have a bit of a population problem globally and things will go south quickly if the infrastructure suddenly breaks down.) But for the time being, lab-processed hot dogs should be identified as such so shoppers can make an informed decision.

And anyone trying to pass off tofu as meat should do a stretch in Rikers Island.