EU bans use of meat product names for vegetarian items

Signal of change / EU bans use of meat product names for vegetarian items

By Carolina Altenburger / 24 Apr 2019

The EU parliament's agriculture committee approved a ban on product names for vegetarian and vegan products usually deployed to describe meat. Those include terms such as steak, sausage, escalope, burger and hamburger. The decision of the committee is not binding yet, it still has a long way to go. The full European Parliament will need to vote on it after the election in May 2019 before the proposal is put to the European Member States and the European Commission. According to MEPs the objective of the ban to limit the use of those terms "exclusively for edible parts of the animals" is clarification in the food industry in the best interest for the consumer. This decision follows a ruling of the European court of justice in 2017, stating that dairy terms should only be used for animal products. 

So what?

In the committee's opinion, the ban would lead to a necessary clarification in the food industry. According to MEP Éric Andrieu, 'People need to know what they are eating'. Will people's consumer behaviour change just because of the name change? Is the reason why people turn to vegetarian products their similarity to the meat-containing substitutes? 

Prohibiting the use of meat-defining names would open a possibility for vegetarian food producers to create their own market. Some MEPs hope it could lead to a widening of the market and the creation of more vegetarian dishes that are not just a substitute for meat. But is a change of names really going to affect the market range of vegetarian meals? Would the change of the name lead to a change in the way people think about meat and vegetarian options?

Some voices assume that the decision is heavily influenced by the meat industry. Is this a sign that the meat industry becomes scared that people would turn to meatless products? Is it going to make a difference for people who buy vegetarian products if they are called similarly to the meat-containing substitute?

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/apr/04/eu-to-ban-non-meat-product-labels-veggie-burgers-and-vegan-steaks

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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