BRUSSELS—The European Parliament has rejected attempts to ban the use of so-called meat denominations, such as burgers and sausages, for plant-based products. In an amendment to the Commission’s proposal for a Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products, some MEPs had proposed introducing a ban on terms like ‘veggie burgers’. MEPs have, however, voted in favour of amendment 171, banning the use of direct and indirect references to dairy on plant-based products.
Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said: “We are unsurprised but delighted that MEPs have rejected cynical attempts by a protectionist meat industry to hinder the marketing of plant-based proteins in the EU. Their preposterous claims that consumers would be confused by the use of names such as burgers, sausages, schnitzels and mince on clearly labelled vegetarian meat substitutes, have been rightly rejected as disproportionate nonsense. It is an insult to consumers’ intelligence to suggest that they cannot tell the difference between burgers labelled as vegetarian, vegan or plant-based and those made with meat from dead animals.”
“Scientists consistently tell us that we need to transition to more sustainable, meat-reduced diets in order to avert catastrophic climate change. Even the European Commission acknowledges the need to shift to more plant-based diets in its recently adopted Farm to Fork Strategy. At a time where urgent action is needed to reduce our environmental footprint on the planet, it would have been utterly counter-productive to allow the meat industry to succeed in pushing for unnecessary barriers to the burgeoning meat-free food sector which has developed plant-based products to cater for the growing number of consumers seeking to reduce or replace animal products in their diets. This has been a desperate attempt by the animal agriculture industry to undermine the EU’s sustainable food and climate policies, and we are glad that MEPs have seen through it.”
A second vague amendment also sought to ban any “imitation or evocation” of dairy foods, and any use of a dairy designation which “exploits the reputation” of dairy foods. This industry attempt to stymie the marketing of plant-based products, such as yoghurt, was, however, adopted by a majority of MEPs during the Plenary vote.
“While we celebrate the rejection of the foolish ‘veggie burger ban’ we are disappointed that MEPs have conceded to the demands of the dairy industry to further ban denominations, which indirectly refer to plant-based dairy alternatives. Terms like ‘almond milk’ and ‘soy yogurt’ are already banned in the EU, and the amendment to this proposed legislation is disproportionate and takes this ban one unnecessary step further. The production of dairy products contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and the use of ‘dairy’ terms on plant-based products provides consumers with easily recognisable alternatives should they wish to change their diet due to health, environmental or animal welfare concerns, We urge the Commission and Member States to ensure that the Parliament’s proposed amendment of this legislation is rejected during the upcoming inter-institutional negotiations on the file,” said Swabe.
- In 2019, MEPs from the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development adopted a report on the Commission’s proposal for a Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products, which included amendments seeking to ban products using meat denominations and the use of terms that imitate dairy designations.
- HSI joined together with animal protection, environmental and food NGOs, as well as producers of plant-based meat alternatives, to campaign against the ‘veggie burger ban’
- The Commission’s recently adopted Farm to Fork Strategy, which is an essential element of the Union’s flagship environmental policy, the European Green Deal, acknowledged that the transition to a more sustainable food system will not happen without a shift in people’s diets. It explicitly states that “moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables will reduce not only risks of life-threatening diseases, but also the environmental impact of the food system.”
- In October 2020, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU Climate Law supporting a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. A ban on using meat denominations for plant-based foods would have been incoherent and undermining to achieving such a climate goal.
Media contact: Leozette Roode, media and campaigns manager for Humane Society International/UK: firstname.lastname@example.org, +27 71 360 1104