Marketing products as “veggie burger” or “vegan sausages” in Europe may become problematic soon, as the European Parliament is about to vote on legislation that includes amendments prohibiting the use of meat and dairy-related names for plant-based foods.
The amendments in question are going to be discussed during a debate of wider agricultural reforms, with Reuters pointing out that the EU Parliament cannot impose the changes on its own, but "would adopt a position ahead of negotiations with the bloc's member countries".
One amendment, for example, would allow terms such as steak, escalope, sausage, burger and hamburger to be used only in association with products containing meat.
European farmers' association Copa Cogeca has already insisted that the EU should dispense with “surrealistic” descriptions, arguing that “condoning terms such as 'vegan burger' would open a Pandora's box that would confuse consumers and harm farmers".
"We believe that it is in the interest of the consumers to know if certain denominations contain meat," Copa Cogeca chief Pekka Pesonen said as quoted by Politico Europe. "In fact, it would be unfair competition to bring new products — being exclusively plant-based — to the meat specific names."
However, Ellie Walden, policy manager at Good Food Institute Europe, which Reuters describes as a lobby group representing the alternative meat sector, insisted that "this drastic change to existing law is unnecessary", adding that "people aren’t buying veggie burgers by mistake" but because they "recognise the benefits of these products for their health, the environment and animal welfare".
"Banning common terms like 'veggie burger' is a patronizing move that threatens to cause confusion where none exists, as companies would be forced to use unfamiliar terms to describe their products," she remarked.