Farmers and industry leaders will not tolerate the use of meat-suggestive terms on plant-based alternatives if an amendment to ban their use does not get voted through the European Parliament.
NFU chief food chain adviser Ruth Edge told an EU energy and environment sub-committee meeting on proposals to ban the terms burger, sausage, steak and escalope on meat-free products that, while she thought terms such as sausage and burger were appropriate, other more specific terms such as ’steak’ should be protected.
The European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee said the terms were too misleading for the consumer, suggesting meat-related terms should be replaced with ‘discs’ and ‘tubes’.
Ms Edge said: “We are concerned about ripping off or mimicking terms such as ‘chicken-style’ or ‘vegetarian shredded duck’.
“Is the duck vegetarian, or is it a vegetarian product?
“Quite why you have to rip off meat terms, I do not know.”
Vegan and vegetarian representatives 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 wellknown 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.
Alan Clarke, chief executive of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), told a packed QMS breakfast meeting on the first morning of the Royal Highland Show (June 20) that vegan products were using meat-based terminology as it was simply more appealing to consumers.
“A vegan disc does not sound as good as a vegan burger,” said Mr Clarke. “They are piggybacking on farming’s reputation.”
It came as Sainsbury’s launched a pop-up meat-free ‘butchers’ in London, to celebrate World Meat Free Week (June 17 to 23).
The retailer said it had seen a 24 per cent rise in the number of consumers actively searching for vegan products online, despite more than half of Britons having never tried what they would consider a ‘meat alternative’.