Will meat alternatives lose to EU label literalism?
Just a few days after Nestlé announced the launch of plant-based Incredible Burger—under its Garden Gourmet brand—the European Parliament’s ag committee voted to block meat alternatives from using words like “steak,” “sausage,” “burger,” hamburger,” etc. The full parliament will vote on the ban after May’s European elections.
Backers of the proposed rule have been at pains to couch the issue in terms of consumer protections and even headier arguments over the historical and cultural meaning and import of meat, rather than as an issue driven by meat industry lobbying or a sop to farmers. The rule passed out of committee with strong support; if approved by the full European Parliament, it would likely not come into effect for several years.
Save for some exceptions based on historical usages—coconut and almond milks, peanut butter, etc.—most plant-based products are already blocked from being marketed as “milk,” “butter,” “cheese,” or the like as a result of an earlier court ruling, but the new law would formalize the ban on the use of dairy terms.
Among those criticizing such rules are environmental advocacy groups that promote the consumption of plant-based foods due to their lower environmental impact. Will consumers be as likely to buy a “veggie disc” instead of a “veggie burger?”
Vegetable lambs, depicted by John Mandeville in the 14th century
Source: Wikimedia, Project Gutenberg
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