JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has declined to block a Missouri law that bans companies from labeling plant-based meat products or meat substitutes as meat.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. said last week that he wouldn't issue a preliminary injunction to stop Missouri agriculture officials from enforcing the law.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Turtle Island Foods, which produces Tofurky products, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Good Food Institute appealed the decision on Wednesday. They say the law violates their free-speech rights.

A provision in a law passed in 2018 says a product cannot be marketed as meat unless it comes from an animal with two or four feet.

Supporters say the law protects meat producers during a time when plate-based foods are rising in popularity.

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