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16 Oct, 2020 16:30

100% beef: EU meat lobbyists want BAN on terms ‘veggie burger’ & ‘veggie sausage’ for plant-based food, claim ‘cultural hijacking’

100% beef: EU meat lobbyists want BAN on terms ‘veggie burger’ & ‘veggie sausage’ for plant-based food, claim ‘cultural hijacking’

Terms such as “veggie burger” and “veggie sausage” for plant-based food items could potentially be banned, if farming and meat industry lobbyists have their way. The European parliament will vote on the proposal next week.

The veggie blacklist would also include such terms as “yoghurt-style” and “cheese-like” for dairy-free alternatives. The vote is expected next Tuesday, when the latest Common Agricultural Policy will go to a plenary vote. 

Lobbyists say the terms mislead consumers, with European agricultural trade body Copa-Cogeca going so far as to suggest they amount to “an obvious case of cultural hijacking,” in a recent statement. The agri-cooperative even implied that branding on plant-based foods could be intentionally deceiving, claiming, “Certain marketing agencies are using this to deliberately confuse consumers.”

“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that consumers are confused or misled by the current labelling of vegetarian and vegan products,” Jasmijn de Boo, of the food advocacy organization ProVeg, said in a statement. “Just as we all know there’s no butter in peanut butter … consumers know exactly what they’re getting when they purchase veggie burgers or veggie sausages.”

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The UK House of Lords agrees that the terms currently used by plant-based food manufacturers are unlikely to be confusing. According to a 2019 report by a parliamentary committee, fewer than four percent of people in the United Kingdom had ever bought a veggie product by mistake.

Boo, and others on the ‘pro-veggie’ side, including major food companies such as Unilever and Nestlé, say the ban would also contradict the EU’s stated goals “to create healthier and more sustainable food systems” and combat climate change, according to the Guardian.

The proposal to ban the veggie terms requests that “names currently used for meat products shall be reserved exclusively for products containing meat.” The list of those supposedly ‘meat-only’ names includes steak, sausage, escalope, burger, and hamburger. A similar name ban would also apply to plant-based chicken-style products.

The concept of forbidding food manufacturers from applying generic words such as ‘burger’ to plant-based products based on their ingredients was slammed as “absurd” online.

“Do you mean a vegetable-based disc?” quipped one Twitter commenter.

Other users pointed to the plant-based food market’s exponential growth in recent years, suggesting that’s the reason the meat industry’s trying to undercut it.

Currently, in the EU, there is already a ban on plant-based dairy alternatives being called milk, cream, butter, cheese or yoghurt.

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