3:04 am PST

Food products advertised as meat but not originally sourced from animals will be banned in Nebraska, if proposed legislation is approved.Legislative Bill 14 (LB 14) would ban food products found to “misrepresent” meat by not being sourced from livestock or poultry.

“The goal of this bill is to promote truth in advertising in our state,” State Sen. Carol Blood (D-Bellevue) told the Associated Press. “I don’t want it to say it’s meat if it’s not meat.”

Vegan Sausages, vegan coffee latte and a vegan muffin. (suzette .nu)

Blood took an interest in the meat advertising after overhearing two women debate at a local grocery store whether a plant-based meat alternative on the shelf was really meat last summer.

As a self-proclaimed vegetarian, Blood neither opposes plant-based foods nor wishes to discourage people from eating them. She maintains she is simply protecting the state’s largest cattle industry, hog-raising operations found in almost every county, as well as the poultry industry.

In Missouri, a similar law was approved in August 2018 and immediately challenged in court by the Good Food Institute, American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Tofurky, which makes plant-based meat alternatives.

“It would censor food labels and create consumer confusion where there is none,” Good Food Institute Staff Attorney Nicole Manu told AP. “This is unconstitutional and wrong.”

Under LB 14, meat is defined as “any edible portion of any livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof.” The definition excludes “lab-grown or insect or plant-based food products.”

The bill bans “any misleading or deceptive practices including misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from livestock or poultry.”

Violators could be charged with Class I misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Pete McClymont of Nebraska Cattlemen said meat labeling has been a top issue for the organization over the past 18 months.

“We just want consumers to know where any product comes from,” he said.

Blood said she intends for enforcement to be driven by consumer complaints, instead of requiring additional inspections or creating a new government office.

Since 2012 nation meat substitute sales have jumped 50.3 percent to $699 million in 2017, according to consumer research company Euromonitor.

By: Oliver Newton