What’s In A Name?

Europe’s main farming lobby group says it is “cultural hijacking” to place a vegan burger, right, in the same category as a beef burger. Carsten Koall/EPA, via Shutterstock; Daniel Roland/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Since 2011 we have looked far and wide for information as well as inspiration related to our primary interest, entrepreneurial conservation.  Sometimes, instead of inspiration we find its dark counterpart, and the result is exasperation. Reducing consumption of animal protein has been just one topical focus in our pages. We have been inspired by the innovations around meat alternatives.

We know that what’s in a name is important to how we think about a product.  How we should refer to plant-based meat alternatives is one of those cases. Thanks to Isabella Kwai, today we see some potentially exasperating news from a region of the world we normally are inspired by, not least for its regulatory muscle:

E.U. Debates Whether a Veggie Burger Is Really a Burger

The European Parliament is voting on proposals that would ban products without meat from being labeled burgers or sausages, drawing ire from environmentalists and manufacturers.

LONDON — When is a burger not a burger? When it contains no meat, according to a divisive proposed amendment on which the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on Friday, part of a set of measures that would ban products without meat or dairy from using associated terms in their labeling.

Under the proposal, plant-based alternative products could not be labeled with terms like “steak,” “sausage,” “escallop” or “burger.” Another proposal would expand a ban on descriptions such as “yogurt-style” or “cream imitation” for nondairy replacements.

The proposed amendment is a small part of a larger package of agricultural measures — one that has received more attention than perhaps desired either by its proponents among meat and livestock groups, who say they would prefer to focus on helping farmers work sustainably, or the environmentalists and food manufacturers opposing it, for whom it is a distraction from climate-change policy.

Jasmijn de Boo, vice president of ProVeg International, a group aimed at reducing meat consumption, said the proposal was not in the interest of consumers or manufacturers, noting that shoppers were not confused by the labels currently on store shelves.

“Why change something to a ‘veggie disc’ or ‘tube’ instead of a sausage?” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Those in favor of the change say that labeling plant-based products with meat terms misleads consumers and could open the door for other confusing labels…

Read the whole article here.

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