Meat labelling legislation debated at House of Lords

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Proposed legislation on food labelling was debated earlier this week
Proposed legislation on food labelling was debated earlier this week

Related tags: Plant-based foods

Proposed EU legislation on the labelling of vegetarian and vegan products has been criticised at a House of Lords Select Committee.

First put forward by the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, the proposed legislation would restrict the use of descriptions such as ‘sausage, ‘burger’ and ‘steak’ to apply only to products containing meat.

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee received evidence from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Vegetarian Society, Quorn Foods and the Vegan Society amongst others on the issue.

The majority of evidence given at the hearing was critical of the proposals, with claims that it would confuse shoppers.

Geoff Bryant, technical director at Quorn Foods, said the proposals were unnecessary. “We ​[Quorn] totally oppose the proposals and see them as totally unnecessary. They would add complexity to the business and confuse consumers. In 30 years of making meat-free products, we’ve not had a single person complain to us about being misled.”

Bryant added: “We already have good legislation in place in the UK on this issue.”

Ruth Edge, chief food chain advisor at the NFU, said the most important point was that consumers were not misled. “We welcome the ambition of the proposals, but feel they probably go too far. The way in which the products are labelled is the key aspect.”

She added that there were some concerns among NFU members about vegan products “mimicking”​ meat terminology. “The sector has got some fantastic products coming to market, but I don’t know why the vegan industry needs to ‘rip off’ or ‘mimic’ the meat industry when it already has a fantastic story to tell.

“There’s a concern over ‘lamb-style’ or similar terminology, which comes down to ensuring presentation and labelling isn’t misleading.”

A Vegetarian Society survey of its members found that 70% of respondents were either very negative or moderately negative of the proposed legislation. Reasons for opposing the legislation included: confusion; current legislation being perceived as adequate; burgers and sausages not being meat-specific terms and “cynical lobbying by the meat industry”​.

Outside of the Lords debate, David Lindars, technical operations director of the British Meat Processors Association, told the BBC that the legislation would bring clarity for shoppers. “Terms like sausage, steak, burger and escalope are synonymous with meat and that should be made clear on labelling. If you are a sausage producer, then you are going to like this plan.”

MEPs are expected to vote on the proposals later this year.

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3 comments

Sausage, burger, steak

Posted by Guillermo yanes,

If you label something as "sausage" you still have to specify what is the sausage made of. No problem then to call a comminuted vegetable mix in an edible casing as a vegetable sausage, as it refers to the shape. Traditionally sausages are made of pork, so chicken producers had to name them " chicken sausages " etc. However, veg producers could become more creative. Its the same principle with the name "pate" now widely used to described not only goose liver paste, but also now we have commonly accepted fish, chicken, etc.

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why copy meat

Posted by r livingstone,

so if the case is as the above person says why do vegie foods need to have names like chicken style ,burgers and escallops are meat terms and yes the public are that dumb try dealing with them for 50 years and find out ---if vegie is that great let it stand on its own ,as for quorn it made it of the back of trying to look like meat-----you vegies are so aggressive, do you think vegie suppliers don't help their back pockets --grow up ,they sell this rabbit food to make money not save the planet-----you are a typical vegie full of lies and aggression you lt copy meat products then sit back and wonder why people get annoyed ------sell your junk on its own merits

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Beyond the ridiculous

Posted by Ryan,

That this subject has got to a point where it has been debated by the House of Lords Select Committee is, to put it bluntly - beyond the ridiculous. How stupid do the the EPCARD, NFU and British Meat Processors Association think British consumers are, really? The terms 'Veggie Burger' or' Vegetarian Sausages' have been around for decades and we have managed okay up to now in our choices up and down supermarket aisles. This whole story revolves around the fact that the meat industry in the UK is suffering deeply in its fight against the rise of plant based/vegan/vegetarian diets. It no longer has a hold of its own destiny as more and more clued up consumers move away from animal products for REAL reasons like, animal welfare/climate change/health benefits. Do you not realise that instead of wasting your energies in trying to fight this, instead embrace them and come up with solutions to diversify away from animal agriculture products that not only helps their back pockets but also (and much more importantly) the planets well being too.

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