EU may ban vegan products adopting terms like 'sausage'

MEPs are to vote on amendments which seek to prohibit the use of 'meaty' terminology in meat-free branding
MEPs are to vote on amendments which seek to prohibit the use of 'meaty' terminology in meat-free branding

An EU proposal to ban the use of names such as ‘burger’ and ‘sausage’ is being challenged with a petition exceeding 100,000 signatures.

A final vote on the matter is expected to take place in the European Parliament, in the week commencing 19 October.

MEPs are seeking to prevent the producers of plant-based foods from using terms typically associated with meat or dairy, thereby banning terms such as ‘veggie burger’, ‘yoghurt style’ or ‘cheese substitute’.

They will vote on two proposals, known as amendments 165 and 171. Amendment 165 seeks to restrict plant-based products from using such terms.

If passed into law, this could see veggie burgers renamed as ‘veggie discs’ and veggie sausages as ‘veggie tubes’.

Amendment 171 seeks to extend existing restrictions on dairy-related terms. Terms such as ‘almond milk’ and ‘vegan cheese’ are already banned on EU products, but 171 goes further and would restrict dairy alternatives from using descriptive terms such as ‘yoghurt style’ and ‘cheese alternative’.

Proponents of both amendments 165 and 171 say they are intended to avoid consumer confusion.

But a House of Lords Sub-Committee has criticised the proposals, raising concerns that such a move would reduce consumer clarity and be a barrier to growth for a 'burgeoning sector' of the food industry.

And over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the votes to be dropped.

Jasmijn de Boo, vice president of ProVeg International, said there was 'no evidence' to suggest that consumers were confused or misled by the current labelling of plant-based products.

"On the contrary, there is strong evidence to suggest that renaming them would create confusion. Over 100,000 people already agree with us," she added.

“Plant-based meat alternatives have been on the market for at least a century in Europe – and for far longer in other parts of the world.

"They have long been marketed as veggie sausages and veggie burgers, and this has never been a problem."

It comes as France adopted far-reaching restrictions on the labelling of plant-based products in May this year.

Research has found that one in four British consumers believe the UK should follow suit and ban plant-based products from using 'meaty' terms.