WAV Comment: Please see our concerns about this and the CAP before the event:
Well, the EU Parliament has this time at least seen part sense. It has been decided that us / you are intelligent enough to know the difference – that a beef burger comes from a dead cow, and that a veggie burger does not. Celebrate with a Vegan ‘Burger’. Now the term ‘milk’ seems more confusing to everyone in industry and the EU Parliament – milk comes from long suffering cows, but ‘milk alternatives’ such as soya milk must not be called such ! – I can sense my Litmus paper coming out later when I have a cup of tea to check if my ‘milk’ is non cow, or from a suffering cow. And to think these people are paid vast sums of Euros to decide for you because they do not think that you, a humble citizen, are intelligent enough to know where your ‘white liquid’ comes from.
Friday 23/10/20 – European farmers lose attempt to ban terms such as ‘veggie burger’
Meat-related words can be used to describe plant-based foods, decides European parliament
Plant-based products that do not contain meat can continue to be labelled “sausages” or “burgers”, European politicians have said, after they rejected a proposal backed by the meat industry to ban the terms.
In votes on issues relating to agricultural products, the European parliament said that so-called veggie burgers, soy steaks and vegan sausages can continue to be sold as such in restaurants and shops across the union.
Europe’s largest farmers’ association, Copa-Cogeca, had supported a ban, arguing that labelling vegetarian substitutes with designations bringing meat to mind was misleading for consumers.
On the opposite side of the debate, a group of 13 organisations including Greenpeace and WWF urged lawmakers to reject the proposed amendments, arguing that a ban would have not only exposed the EU “to ridicule”, but also damaged its environmental credibility.
They said promoting a shift toward a more plant-based diet is in line with the European Commission’s ambition to tackle global warming. Losing the ability to use the terms steak or sausage might make those plant-based products more obscure for consumers.
After the vote, the European Consumer Organization, an umbrella group bringing together consumers’ associations, praised the MEPs for their “common sense”.
“Consumers are in no way confused by a soy steak or chickpea-based sausage, so long as it is clearly labelled as vegetarian or vegan,” the group said in a statement. “Terms such as ‘burger’ or ‘steak’ on plant-based items simply make it much easier for consumers to know how to integrate these products within a meal.”
Together with Greenpeace, the group regretted that lawmakers accepted further restrictions on the naming of alternative products containing no dairy. Terms like “almond milk” and “soy yogurt” are already banned in Europe after the bloc’s top court ruled in 2017 that purely plant-based products cannot be marketed using terms such as milk, butter or cheese, which are reserved for animal products.
E.U. Says ‘Veggie Burgers’ Can Keep Their Name
The European Parliament voted on Friday on proposals that would have banned products without meat from being labelled burgers or sausages.
LONDON — When is a burger not a burger? When it contains no meat. At least according to a divisive proposal that was in front of the European Parliament this week, part of a set of measures that would have banned the use of terms like “steak,” “sausage,” “escallop” or “burger” on labels for plant-based alternative products.
But after a decisive vote against the measure on Friday, it seems veggie burgers will still be on the menu.
“Reason prevailed, and climate sinners lost,” Nikolaj Villumsen, a member of the European Parliament from Denmark posted on Twitter. “It’s worth celebrating with a veggie burger.”
A proposal to expand a ban on descriptions such as “yogurt-style” or “cream imitation” for nondairy replacements did pass, extending previous limitations on the use of words like “milk” and “butter” on nondairy alternatives.
The proposed changes — a small part of a package of agricultural measures — received more attention than perhaps desired either by their proponents among meat and livestock groups, who said 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 that the proposal was not in the interest of consumers or manufacturers, and 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 said that labeling plant-based products with meat terms were misleading and could open the door for other confusing labels.
“We simply call for the work of millions of European farmers and livestock sector workers to be acknowledged and respected,” Jean-Pierre Fleury, the chairman of Copa-Cogeca, Europe’s largest farming lobby group, said in a statement this month. He described the use of meatlike names for plant-based products as “cultural hijacking.”
The decision is a victory for environmental advocates over an E.U. farming lobby that is one of the strongest voices in the bloc and plays an outsize role in policymaking, considering that the sector has been shrinking for years.
Camille Perrin, the senior food policy officer at the European Consumer Organization, called decision “great news” and a “common sense” vote.
“Consumers are in no way confused by a soy steak or chickpea-based sausage, so long as it is clearly labeled as vegetarian or vegan,” she said in a statement after the vote. “Terms such as ‘burger’ or ‘steak’ on plant-based items simply make it much easier for consumers to know how to integrate these products within a meal.”
It is not the first debate over plant-based foods as that sector has exploded in recent years.
Labels for plant-based dairy alternatives like “soy milk” or “tofu butter” are illegal in the bloc after dairy producers won a 2017 ruling backed by the European Court of Justice.
In 2018, France banned the use of meat terms to describe vegetarian products. In dozens of states in the United States, advocates of vegetarian food have clashed with farmers and lobbyists over legislation that makes it illegal for plant-based products to be called meat.
Several parties in the European Parliament had also submitted proposals with different caveats since the initial amendment was introduced, and those are still to be voted on. Manufacturers like Beyond Meat, Unilever and Ikea, along with the European Medical Association, have opposed the changes, which they described in an open letter as “disproportionate and out of step with the current climate.”
Many said that approving the amendment would be counter to a goal set by the European Parliament this month to reduce carbon emissions 60 percent by 2030.
And shoppers seem to like the names. In a 2020 survey from the European Consumer Organization, about 42 percent of respondents said they believed “meaty” names for plant-based products should be permitted if products were clearly labeled vegetarian or vegan. Twenty-five percent said that such names should be banned.
A spokesman for Copa-Cogeca said the organization did not believe that shoppers could not tell the difference between meat and plant-based products, and said that farmers were not against vegetable alternatives. But he said that differentiating the markets — much like those of butter and margarine — was among a host of initiatives that would support struggling farmers who are trying to adapt to a world more focused on sustainability.
Some said the proposal would provide more fodder for what critics call the European Union’s penchant for overregulation. Alexander Stubb, a former prime minister of Finland, said the bloc should legislate only “where there are impediments to the free movement of goods, services, money and people.”
He described the amendment as “overkill” that would bolster the arguments of those who campaigned for Britain’s exit from the bloc: “This is one of these symbolic sad cases — a bit like legislating on the curve of cucumbers.”
EU lawmakers vote for ‘veggie burgers,’ take hard line on dairy labels
(CNN)Restaurants and shops in the European Union should be allowed to label products as “veggie burgers” or “vegan sausages,” the European Parliament said on Friday, while calling for tighter curbs on labelling of plant-based dairy substitutes.
EU lawmakers voted to reject proposals, backed by farmers, to ban plant-based products from using terms such as steak, sausage or burger.
“I’m going to celebrate with a vegan burger,” Swedish EU lawmaker Jytte Guteland said after the result was announced.
Farmers had argued that the using words like burger or sausage for non-meat products could mislead consumers. European farmers association Copa Cogeca said allowing such terms would open a “Pandora’s box” of confusing wording.
But medical groups, environmentalists and companies that make vegetarian products have said that banning these terms would discourage consumers from shifting to more plant-based diets, undermining the EU’s environmental and health goals.
A majority of EU lawmakers also voted on Friday for stricter rules on labelling of dairy substitutes, backing a ban on terms such as “milk-like” or “cheese-style” for plant-based products that contain no dairy ingredients.
The European Court of Justice already banned terms like “soy milk” and “vegan cheese” three years ago, ruling that words such as milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt cannot be used for non-dairy products.
The labelling rules are part of a bigger EU farming policy package for 2021-2027, and are not final. Parliament must strike a compromise with EU member states on the final policy.
Elena Walden, policy manager at the non-profit Good Food Institute Europe, called on EU countries to “clear up this mess and reject confusing and unnecessary restrictions on plant-based dairy products.”
Lawmakers approved their position on the farming policy package on Friday despite calls from Green lawmakers and campaigners, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, to reject the proposal. They say it does not do enough to curb the sector’s emissions or protect nature from the effects of intensive factory farming.