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Regulating Communications

Turtle Island Foods SPC d/b/a/ Tofurky Co. v. Soman


Turtle Island Foods SPC d/b/a/ Tofurky Co. v. Soman (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, Dec. 11, 2019): The district court granted Tofurky’s request to block several provisions of an Arkansas law banning the misbranding or misrepresentation of agricultural products by prohibiting marketing of such products under the name of another food. The law included significant civil penalties. The court found that as applied, Tofurky would no longer be able to use terms like “sausage” or “meat” to describe its plant-based products, concluding that Tofurky was likely to succeed on its claim that the law violated its First Amendment commercial speech rights. The court rejected the state’s argument that Tofurky’s use of terms such as “hot dogs” and “sausage” constituted inherently misleading speech, finding the labels made disclosures “to inform consumers as to the plant-based nature of the products,” like “Chorizo Style Sausage” paired with “all vegan.”  Tofurky was therefore likely to prevail on its claim that its labels were not misleading when read as a whole. It also concluded Tofurky was likely to succeed on its argument that the law did not further the state’s interest in protecting consumers from misleading or false labeling of agricultural products and was overly-extensive in serving the state’s interest. Read the decision here.

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