Australian farmers unite against vegan food producers to stop them from calling their products ‘meat’
- Farmers unite against plant-based product marketing referring to animals
- A new law in Texas could set a precedent to be repeated in Australia
- Food Standards Australia and New Zealand asked to examine labelling issues
Australian farmers are fighting back against what they see as false labeling and marketing by the makers of plant-based protein products.
They are concerned about the use of words like meat, beef, pork and chicken featuring so prominently on vegan food labels, with other terms like milk, burger, sausage and mince also under scrutiny.
Legislation in the United States, where the Texas Meat and Imitation Food Act is set to become law, could lead the way for action to follow in Australia.
Farmers are fighting back against plant-based protein producers claiming their products are anything like this juicy real meat burger
The red meat industry believes plant-based product marketing should not be trading on meat comparisons
The key issues are ‘truth in labelling’ and food safety standards according to Australian Pork Limited chief executive Margo Andrae, who said processes are in place to achieve similar goals here.
‘People need to know what is in these products so they have to open the transparency around how they develop the products,’ she told the ABC.
‘Don’t call it meat, don’t call it pork or beef or lamb if it’s not.’
She said consumers deserved full disclosure about what is in a product and how it was made.
It is possible that restrictions on the use of meat and meat types in packaging could apply to lab-grown meat – an innovation that is being developed by several start-ups around the world.
Its early marketing includes phrases like ‘slaughter-free meat’ and ‘cultured meat’ – terms which still use the word meat although it does not come from an animal.
Meat producers are taking issue with how plant-based food producers are packing their products as though they are real meat
Vegan soya and plant based ‘meatballs’ (pictured)
At the same time the Cattle Council of Australia wants the word beef kept to products that contain real beef.
‘It’s illegal to make use of someone else’s trademark and the same should go for highly processed products that try to mimic beef,’ said Cattle Council chief executive Travis Tobin.
The council has asked Food Standards Australia New Zealand, which examines food labelling issues, to investigate.
It is understood several peak red meat industry bodies co-wrote a letter to the federal government that calls for the banning of any plant-based product marketing referring to animal flesh and the use of livestock images in packaging or marketing material.
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The Red Meat Advisory Council is adamant changes are needed to differentiate between real meat and manufactured meatless products.
‘It is clear the [manufactured plant protein] sector has continued a deliberate strategy to unfairly trade on the reputation of Australia’s meat and livestock industries,’ Red Meat Advisory Council John McKillop wrote in the letter, Beef Central reported.
Dairy farmer group Australian Dairy Farmers has previously urged the federal government to disallow the use of the word milk by plant-based drink products such as almond and soy milk.
Thomas King, of Independent alternative proteins think-tank Food Frontier countered saying there was no evidence of widespread consumer confusion around labelling of vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives in Australia.
‘These products use highly visible claims like ‘100 per cent plant-based’ or ‘vege’ or ‘meat-free’ or ‘beefless’ in addition to terms like ‘sausage’ or ‘burger’ or ‘mince’ that speak to the utility and format of the product.’