San Francisco, CA – The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), the trade association representing more than 160 plant-based food companies, has released the first-of-its kind standard for the labeling of plant-based meat alternatives. The goal of the voluntary standard is to promote consistency in labeling across the plant-based meat category, which grew by over 10% last year in grocery stores and is now featured in numerous chain restaurants across the country.

“As consumers increasingly seeking out plant-based meat options, the Plant Based Foods Association is leading the way by promoting a labeling standard that suggests clear labeling terms that consumers understand,” said Michele Simon, PBFA’s executive director. As the industry leader in plant-based food advocacy, last year PBFA released voluntary labeling standards for plant-based milks.

PBFA’s meat alternative standards allow for references to the type of animal-meat (i.e. “meat, “chicken,” “hamburger,” etc.) and the form of the product (i.e. “nuggets,” “burger,” etc.) along with a qualifier that clearly indicates that the food is plant-based or vegetarian. These qualifiers include: “plant-based,” “vegan,” “meatless,” “meat-free,” “vegetarian,” “veggie,” “made from plants,” and other similar phrases. The full standards document can be found here.

As plant-based foods continue to grow in popularity, so do political threats from special interests. PBFA is hard at work making sure our members can label their foods in a way that consumers understand. In addition to the voluntary labeling standards, PBFA is also actively engaged in policy battles at the federal and state level to defend its members constitutional rights to common sense labeling. This includes vigorously lobbying against “The Real MEAT Act,” which seeks to unjustly codify the definition of “meat” for labeling purposes and would require the use of “imitation” on labels for plant-based meats. It also aims, in an unprecedented power grab, to expand jurisdiction of the labeling of plant-based foods to USDA if the FDA fails to act.

PBFA has also been fighting this year in over half the states on labeling restriction bills as conventional meat and dairy special interests continue to attack free market competition. PBFA anticipates that these attacks will continue, and pledges to continue to work to ensure a level playing field for its members, both in the legislative arena and, where necessary, in the courthouse. Recently, PBFA and its member company, Upton’s Naturals, with legal representation from the Institute for Justice, won a significant legal fight in Mississippi. As a result of our lawsuit, state officials agreed to revise regulations to allow plant-based food companies to continue using common meat terms alongside proper qualifiers, as PBFA’s labeling guidance suggests. First Amendment lawsuits are pending in Arkansas and Missouri on similar laws, and more lawsuits are likely to follow.

In Wisconsin, the state legislature is currently considering three legislative proposals that would unfairly limit how plant-based dairy and meat alternatives are labeled. In response, PBFA’s lobbyist Dan Colegrove recently testified before the state’s Senate Agriculture Committee urging the committee to not support the bills, which may be voted on this month in Wisconsin’s Senate and Assembly.

The PBFA plant-based meat standards committee consisted of representatives from the following member companies: Beyond Meat, Hungry Planet, Lightlife and Field Roast, Morningstar Farms, No Evil Foods, Tofurky, and Upton’s Naturals.