Plant-based protein foods should not be labeled “meat”

A Senate committee recommends the development of a national information standard that defines and limits the use of meat grade marks (for example, “meat”, “beef”, “lamb”, “goat”, “pork”, “chicken” and seafood terminology) to animals. protein products.

The standard should include guidance on the use of livestock imaging to label and market plant protein products. The use of livestock imagery is currently unregulated. The standard should be developed by the ACCC. The committee also recommends that:

Regulating Plant Protein and Synthetic Meat Labels: the Australian government is developing a mandatory regulatory framework for the labeling of plant-based protein products. These regulations should be able to apply to synthetic or cultured meat products (in which cells from healthy animals are grown in cell culture) when brought into Australia.

Food Standards Code Review: as part of its current review of the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Act 1999, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)

“Chicken without chicken”: initiate a review of section 1.1.1 to 13(4) of the FSANZ Code and recommend exempting its application to brands of named meat, seafood and dairy categories. Under Article 1.1.1—13(4) of the Code, food and drink products are permitted to use qualifying descriptors to ensure that a consumer is aware of the true nature of a product and its its intended use, e.g. “vegan cheese“, “vegetable cheese”. sausage”, “chicken without chicken” or “beef patty without beef”. “We advise that an ongoing review of FSANZ also includes rescinding its permission for plant proteins and non-dairy milks to use animal descriptors,” Senator McDonald said.

Define vegetable proteins, set composition requirements: launch consultations on the definition of vegetable protein products in the FSANZ code and on the definition of minimum compositional requirements for these products in the code.

Guidelines for labeling and marketing: that FSANZ develop guidelines for the labeling and marketing of plant-based protein products, after completing and implementing the FSANZ Code Review

Review the placement of vegetable proteins in stores: ACCC is reviewing the placement of plant-based protein products in retailers’ stores, including online. There are concerns that plant proteins are too close to animal proteins in stores.

Support for the use of Australian-grown produce in plant-based protein: the Directorate of Agriculture, Water and Environment and the CSIRO are studying measures to:

○ help plant-based protein manufacturers use Australian-grown vegetables and pulses; and

○ support investment in manufacturing alternative plant-based products in Australia

Supporting the vegetable protein sector: the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment supports the vegetable protein products sector.

“Consumers say they are confused by plant-based products with names like ‘chicken’, ‘beef’ or ‘shrimp’ with images of these animals on the packaging and the words ‘plant-based’ or ‘free from meat’ printed in much smaller letters”. said Senator McDonald.

“All we’re suggesting is that, just as margarine makers did by choosing a name that doesn’t contain butter, plant-based protein marketers find ways to promote their products without trading off the names and pictures of animals.

“The same goes for cultured meat. When it finally hits the market, it will need to be clearly discernible from pen-grown meat.” This is important because “lab-grown meat [is] is expected to enter the markets in the coming years.

Sources:

• Senator Susan Mcdonald, Vegan Food Packaging Survey Recommendations, [media release]February 24, 2022.

• Senate Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation, Do not mince your words: definitions of meat and other animal productsList of recommendations, para 4.41, 2.48, 1.42, February 2022.


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Tanya S. Norvell