‘Veggie burgers” not misleading

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The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee have raised concerns about an EU amendment to ban the use of words like ‘sausage’ and ‘burger’ to describe foods that don’t contain meat.

The Sub-Committee found that banning such words would in fact reduce consumer clarity; be a barrier to growth for a burgeoning sector of the food industry and ultimately make it more challenging for people to reduce the amount of meat in their diet at a time when Government should be seeking to encourage the opposite.

In early April, the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development agreed to seek to restrict the use of descriptions like “sausage”, “burger” and “steak” to apply only to products containing meat and not to vegetarian alternatives.

However, the Lords’ Committee heard no evidence that consumers had felt they were misled by meat-free products and less than 4% of people had ever unintentionally bought a vegetarian product instead of a meat free version.

Further, witnesses were unanimous in the view that current naming conventions around vegetarian burgers and sausages in particular are clear and easy to understand.

The Committee is therefore challenging the stated justification of the amendment to “prohibit certain commercial practices that are misleading for consumers”.