Plant-based protein and dairy alternative names such as ‘burger’, ‘sausage’, and ‘steak’ and ‘yoghurt style’, ‘cheese alternative’, and ‘butter substitute’ could be banned if new regulation is approved
two veggie burgers on a table

The European Parliament is set to vote on Wednesday on the regulation establishing a Common Organisation of the Markets (CMOs) in agricultural products (2018/0218 COD). This regulation is one of the three legal frameworks composing the Common Agricultural Policy.

The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) proposed two amendments to the text that sparked a roar among environmentalist groups and plant-based food communities. The proposed changes are:

  • Amendment 165 would effectively ban widely accepted and commonly used terms, such as ‘veggie burger,’ or ‘plant-based steak’.
  • Amendment 171 would further restrict the naming of dairy alternatives by prohibiting terms, such as ‘yoghurt-style’, ‘alternative to cheese,’ or ‘butter substitute’ to describe plant-based dairy alternatives. 

The main argument behind this proposal is to avoid consumer confusion. International food awareness orgaisation Proveg, however, argues that terms such as ‘veggie burger’ and ‘veggie sausage’ provide important information regarding the taste and uses that people can expect from a product.

“Consumers buy plant-based products precisely because they know these products offer similar taste experiences and functionalities to their animal-based counterparts,” ProVeg said in a statement alongside its petition to the EU parliament not to accept the proposed veggie burger ban.

Further, ProVeg argues the proposed restrictions would be in direct contradiction to the EU’s stated objectives in the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy of creating more sustainable and healthier food systems. “The Farm to Fork Strategy explicitly states the need to empower consumers ‘to choose sustainable food’ and to make ‘it easier to choose healthy and sustainable diets.”

At the time of writing, ProVeg’s petition has been signed by 225,696 people, out of 250,000 signatures required.

Date published: 20 October 2020

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