Boundaries must be put in place for the use of meat-suggestive terms on plant-based alternatives if an amendment to ban their use does not get voted through parliament.
European parliament’s agriculture committee voted 29 for and seven against the proposals to ban the terms burger, sausage, steak and escalope on meat-free products, instead replacing them with the likes of veggie ‘disks’ and ‘tubes’.
They said the meat-related terms were ‘too misleading’ for the consumer.
But agricultural representatives in a EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee meeting at the House of Lords on Wednesday (June 19) said while the proposals went ‘too far’ on a ban on the terms sausage and burger, other more specific terms should be protected.
NFU chief food chain advisor Ruth Edge said: “On the non-processed statements like steak, we feel much more strongly that they need to be protected where you have a specific cut of meat or where a particular protein is mentioned.
“We are concerned about ripping off or mimicking terms in terms of ‘chicken-style’ or ‘vegetarian shredded duck’. Is the duck vegetarian or is it a vegetarian product?
“Twenty per cent of products coming to shelf are vegetarian or vegan products with fantastic credentials.
“Quite why you have to rip off meat terms, I do not know.”
Vegan and vegetarian representatives however hit back with claims that changes to marketing, packaging and branding would be too costly and time-consuming, with the potential for new terms to make well-known brands ‘unrecognisable’.
They also argued the move would be counter-productive to the government’s environmental aims.
Quorn Foods technical director Geoff Bryant said they had ‘not had a single person complain they have been misled’ in the 30-years since the company was launched.
He said it was actively looking to mimic meat to help drive a conscious food choice towards plant-based alternatives.
Mark Banahan, campaigns and policy officer at the Vegan Society, said: “The sausage part of the name refers to the shape, how they are cooked and what they might be best served with.
“Nothing to do with the content – meat or otherwise.”
Jackie Kearney, chef at Manchester vegan restaurant The Hungry Gecko, said if plant-based products were unable to use a meat ‘style’ or ‘like’ term, labelling would become too wordy.
“Instead of simply saying mock bacon, you would be saying a wheat, gluten-shaped smoky paprika flavoured lump that is sliced thinly,” she said. “It would become quite impossible.”