The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee believes an EU amendment to stop plant-based producers using traditional meat names for their products would have negative impacts.
In April, the EU Parliament’s agriculture committee approved a ban on naming meat-free foods after their traditional counterparts, suggesting vegan and veggie burgers could become ‘discs’, and sausages ‘tubes’ among other alternatives.
But the Lords say the change could not only reduce consumer clarity and be a barrier to growth for a burgeoning sector of the food industry, but also undermine EU policy objectives on climate change, the environment, and public health.
‘Without evidence of a problem’
“The Committee heard no evidence that consumers had felt they were misled by meat-free products and less than four percent of people had ever unintentionally bought a vegetarian product instead of a meat-free version,” a Committee spokesperson said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
“Further, witnesses were unanimous in the view that current naming conventions around vegetarian burgers and sausages in particular are clear and easy to understand.
“The Committee therefore challenge the stated justification of the amendment to ‘prohibit certain commercial practices that are misleading for consumers’ and contest that without evidence of a problem, legislative action by the EU is unnecessary and would undermine EU policy objectives on climate change, the environment and public health.”
The Committee has written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to outline its concerns, conceding that while the UK would most likely not be affected if the amendment was implemented (as it will have left the EU), it would have implications for UK food businesses seeking to trade with the EU.
The Lords’ position ties in with other organizations who have blasted the proposals, including global food awareness organization, ProVeg, which branded the amendment ‘unacceptably damaging for plant-based businesses’.
“There is absolutely no evidence that consumers are being misled by vegetarian products. To the contrary, they choose vegetarian products based on names and descriptions like ‘veggie burger’ and ‘vegan sausage’ precisely because that wording makes it abundantly clear they do not contain meat or other animal ingredients,” Felix Domke, Head of Politics at ProVeg, told PBN.
“The inclusion of burger or sausage wording in a vegetarian product is also important for consumers to know what flavor or texture to expect of a certain product. The EU is seeking to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and, as a result, could really damage businesses that label their products appropriately.”