Proposal to ban terms ‘burger’ and ‘sausage’ for vegan products challenged

The Vegan Society says the EU proposal is ‘unreasonable and costly’ and would lead to confusion among consumers.

Non-meat burgers could be called discs (David Parry/PA)
Non-meat burgers could be called discs (David Parry/PA)

By Josie Clarke, Press Association Consumer Affairs Correspondent

A charity has challenged an EU proposal to ban names like “burger” and “sausage” for vegan and vegetarian food products.

The Vegan Society said the “unreasonable and costly” proposal threatened to cause “widespread administrative chaos, confusion and time wasting”.

If the proposal is voted into effect next month, vegan and veggie burgers could become “discs” and sausages “tubes”.

As consumers are increasingly moving away from eating animals, the demand for vegan products is growing. There’s no denying that meat, dairy and egg industries are feeling threatened by this and desperately trying to restrict the marketing of vegan products. The Vegan Society

The charity said the measures would not only affect vegans but also prove costly for public authorities that currently serve vegan food, such as government departments, health providers, education establishments, police forces and prisons.

The proposed amendment banning the use of the words burger, sausage or steak for products that do not contain meat was passed by the European Parliament’s agricultural committee earlier this month as part of a revision of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

But the Vegan Society says it contravenes EU consumers’ rights to be informed adequately as to how goods can be used and denies the vegan community the benefits offered by EU law on clear labelling.

It claims that alternative vocabulary put forward such as “vegetable disc” does not constitute clear food labelling under EU consumer law because such terms are not easily interpreted.

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It has legally challenged the plans in a formal letter to EU officials, signed by its chief executive George Gill, on the grounds of breaching fundamental human rights of vegans.

Mr Gill said: “As consumers are increasingly moving away from eating animals, the demand for vegan products is growing. There’s no denying that meat, dairy and egg industries are feeling threatened by this and desperately trying to restrict the marketing of vegan products.

“These proposals have little to do with consumer protection and instead are motivated by economic concerns of the meat industry. We are calling on EU officials to reject these irrational measures for vegan meat alternatives to be banned from using the qualified conventional terms everyone has been using for decades.”

Dr Jeanette Rowley, vegan rights advocate at The Vegan Society, said: “This proposed measure is not aligned with EU policy on respect for diversity. It is not in the public interest and, if implemented, would have a disproportional impact across society by affecting the normal daily functioning of all public and private entities that provide food.

“This EU measure threatens to cause widespread administrative chaos, confusion and time wasting trying to understand how to plan a meal that includes a veggie disc or a veggie tube. The widespread impact of this unreasonable and costly proposal should not be underestimated.”

The charity said it would escalate its challenge if the EU does not respond within 21 days.

PA Media


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