Vegan and vegetarian products face being renamed under proposed EU regulations on food labeling.
This week, the EU Parliament’s agriculture committee approved a ban on naming meat-free foods after their traditional counterparts. If the proposals are voted into effect by the full EU Parliament in May, vegan and veggie burgers could become ‘discs’, and sausages ‘tubes’ among other products.
Some politicians believe the meat industry is behind the proposed crackdown, though supporters insist they want to avoid consumers being misled.
“The meat lobby is not involved in this,” said French socialist MEP Éric Andrieu, who was responsible for overseeing the legislation.
“It has generated a considerable debate among the political groups and a large majority wanted to clarify things. Particularly in the light of history, the history we share, you can have a steak or burger, you can’t call it something else.
“We felt that steak should be kept for real steak with meat and come up with a new moniker for all these new products. There is a lot to be done in this front, a lot of creativity will be needed.
“People need to know what they are eating. So people who want to eat less meat know what they are eating – people know what is on their plate.”
Others believe the proposed ban is a result of lobbying by animal agriculture, with Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero branding it ‘ridiculous’
“[It] shows the lengths the EU Parliament’s agriculture committee will go to promote factory farming of meat and dairy, whether at the expense of the environment, rural communities or, in this case, plain common sense,” he added.
“This is nothing more than a cynical attempt to undermine an emerging market in meat and dairy alternatives which greatly benefits farmers, consumers, and the planet.”
‘Low level of confusion’
Despite claims around consumer confusion, research released last year by the International Food Information Council (IFFC) showed that fewer than 10 percent of US consumers believe that plant-based milks contain any dairy products – suggesting that shoppers can tell the difference between traditional foods and their vegan counterparts.
The study shows that a further 75 percent know the vegan products do not contain cow’s milk, and the remaining respondents are not sure.
The IFCC says these results show ‘a low level of consumer confusion over nomenclature and basic differences between the two’.