European Parliament is voting this week on a possible ban on terms such as 'veggie burger' and 'vegan sausages'. According to the meat industry, such terms only confuse consumers.
The European agricultural lobby Copa-Cogeca wants words such as burger, steak and sausage to remain exclusively reserved for 'real' meat products. In other words, they advocate a ban on using those terms for vegetarian alternatives. According to the organisation, terms such as 'veggie burger' or 'vegan sausages' would lead to confusion among consumers. Jean-Pierre Fleury of Copa-Cogeca even spraks of 'cultural hijacking' in De Standaard.
The European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has listened to the demands of the meat industry. Only this week, MEPs will be voting on an amendment to a regulation which states that 'the names used for meat products shall be reserved exclusively for products containing meat, including steak, sausages, chops and burgers'.
Support from multinationals
It goes without saying that environmental movements and organisations promoting plant-based food are vehemently opposed to a possible ban. They resolutely dismiss the argument of confusion. "There is absolutely no evidence at all that consumers would be confused or misled by the way plant products are now referred to. On the contrary, calling them different now will only lead to confusion", says Nena Baeyens of the non-profit organisation Ethisch Vegetarisch Alternatief. According to her, names such as 'veggie burger' and 'vegan sausage' provide important information about the taste that people can expect from a product.
It is striking that major food concerns such as Nestlé and Unilever are also opposed to a ban on the designations. They have therefore invested heavily in all kinds of meat substitutes in recent years and see a growing market for such products. Incidentally, this week's vote in the European Parliament is not binding. Negotiations with the Member States and the Commission will follow.