Veggie disc anyone? Europe plans to ban 'veggie burger'

13 July 2019

Should vegan and vegetarian products continue to be named using words associated with meat products? The most common example of this is the 'veggie burger'. European Union officials are considering using alternative phrases, like 'veggie disc'.

Rather than describing vegetarian and vegan products their meat-like equivalents, there is a proposal to rename veggie burgers and vegan sausages. Potential alternatives include vegetable disc, quorn tube, soya slice or seitan slab, according to Wired. These alternative descriptors form a European Union EU proposal to end the use of meat-related terms for vegetarian and vegan foods.

The idea is not as novel as it sounds, for France has already enacted legislation, in the form of an amendment to its Agriculture Bill, which prohibits any product based on non-animal ingredients from being labelled as either sausage, burger or steak. The implementation was subsequently assessed by the EU's agricultural committee. The committee has now agreed to prohibit meat-associated names for plant-based or laboratory-grown protein. This won't become mandatory, however, until it as been passed by the European Commission.

The idea is also being considered separately by the U.K. government. As part of the process, a House of Lords select committee invited has held discussions with the National Farmers' Union, the Vegan Society, Vegetarian Society, and Quorn Foods. The focus is on exploring how a French-style re-branding might work in Britain.

Ruth Edge, chief food chain adviser at the National Farmers' Union told The Caterer that consumers are getting confused by the mixing of meat-related terms with non-meat foods. She said: "I think we are quite concerned about mimicking terms – in terms of things like 'chicken style', or for example, there is a product called 'vegetarian shredded duck' – well, is the duck vegetarian or is it a vegetarian product? What is it?"

However, others are opposed to the proposals, such as Geoff Bryant, of Quorn foods. He states that the public are perfectly capable of understanding what 'vegetarian burger' and 'beef burger' are and how the ingredients differ. He fears the move would add business complexity and only serve to confuse consumers.

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