European Parliament has voted against the proposed ban on the use of designations referring to meat for plant-based alternatives. However, designations referring to dairy products will continue to be banned.
Victory is not complete
After the plenary vote, mixed feelings prevailed among European consumer organisation BEUC. It welcomes the fact that MEPs did not go along with far-reaching proposals to ban any name referring to meat for plant-based meat substitutes. According to the meat lobby, terms such as steak, sausage, cutlet and burger should be reserved exclusively for 'real' meat. Indeed, designations such as 'vegetable burger' or 'soy sausage' could lead to confusion among consumers. This is an argument that advocates of plant-based food have dismissed as implausible. A majority of MEPs appeared to agree with this.
Nevertheless, the victory is not complete. Indeed, Parliament does confirm that it remains forbidden to use designations referring to dairy products for dairy alternatives. There can therefore be no talk of 'soy cream', nor of 'vegetable yoghurt', nor of 'alternative to butter'.
A major blow to the vegetable dairy sector, according to ProVeg International, the interest group that had launched a petition against the ban: "Plant-based dairy businesses could now be saddled with significant financial burdens and practical challenges around renaming, rebranding and remarketing of products and the potential of high legal costs. This ban is also in direct contradiction of the EU’s stated objectives in the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy to create healthier and more sustainable food systems.”