Reading Time: 2 minutes Are plant-based labels confusing consumers? The evidence says otherwise... Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.
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Australia is launching an inquiry to decide whether it will ban the use of plant-based ‘meat’ labels

Queensland Senator Susan McDonald pushed for an official committee to review the country’s labeling laws.

Plant-based ‘meat’ labels

The politician, and former butcher, argues meat-free brands should be prohibited from using terms such as ‘mince’ and ‘sausages’.

She argues Australia’s meat industry should have ‘sole use of product names that have meant only one thing for centuries’.

According to 7News, McDonald added: “If you prefer tofu over T-bone, then you go for it – but forget the ethics of eating animal products.

“This is about protecting a highly valuable industry and also providing a clear distinction between the real thing and the alternatives so consumers know exactly what they’re getting.”

‘Misleading’ consumers’

Last month, The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill banning the labelling of vegan and cell-cultured food labels referencing their meat/dairy counterpart.

House Bill 316 was okayed by lawmakers in May to prevent brands ‘misleading consumers’.

The bill strictly defines ‘beef’ and ‘chicken’ as ‘any edible portion of a formerly live and whole cattle/ chicken carcass, not derived by synthetic or artificial means’. 

Similarly, it says the label ‘meat’ must not contain any lab-grown, cell-cultured, insect, or plant-based food products. 

However, the bill had not passed the Senate before the session ended on May 31 and is therefore not currently a law in the state.

‘Veggie burger ban’

Despite the crackdown on plant-based labeling, last year the EU Parliament rejected the controversial ‘veggie burger ban’.

If passed, the legislation would have required vegan brands to use terms such as ‘veggie disc’ instead of ‘burger’. 

More recently, the EU rejected Amendment 171 – which put forward similar limitations for labeling plant-based dairy products.

Do plant-based labels really confuse consumers?

Despite politicians’ arguments that plant-based labels are confusing to consumers – a new empirical study found otherwise.

The research – conducted by Cornell University – has been published in the Journal of Animal and Environmental Law. 

It found ‘consumers are no more likely to think that plant-based products come from an animal if the product’s name incorporates words traditionally associated with animal products than if it does not’.

Moreover, it argues ‘omitting words that are traditionally associated with animal products from the names of plant-based products actually causes consumers to be significantly more confused about the taste and uses of these products’. 

This article was updated on July 2, 2021, to state that the banning of plant-based meat labels is not currently law in the state of Texas, as House Bill 316 had not been approved by the Senate before the session ended on May 31. It previously stated that Texas had approved the bill.

Liam Giliver

Liam is the former Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. He has written for The Independent, Huffington Post, Attitude Magazine, and more. He is also the author of 'We're Worried About Him'.