Meat processors say terms like 'vegetarian meat balls', 'vegetarian chicken nuggets' and 'vegetarian ham' are misleading the consumer
European meat processors want the EU to stop meat-related terms being used for vegetarian food products, saying the labels often mislead consumers.
Clitravi an industry group for EU meat processors including Irish meat processors says numerous foodstuffs suitable for vegetarians or vegans derive their sales from names which relate to meat, animal species, specific meat cuts and/ or meat products.
It has written to the European commission to say it believes that this contravenes EU Regulations on the rules relating to "clear and unambiguous consumer information".
In new guidelines meat processors want to see implemented they say products that do not contain meat should not refer to meat in the name of the product.
It says examples of this include vegetarian meat, meat replacer, meat substitute, vegetarian pork, vegetarian chicken, vegetarian beef, are considered misleading terms and should not be allowed.
The same situation should apply, they say to product names referring to meat parts or cuts such as vegetarian minced meat, vegetarian beefsteak and vegetarian chicken chunks. Clitravi considers these misleading and, as such, should not be allowed.
Further it says the same situation should apply to products referring to legal names, customary names or descriptive names of meat products including vegetarian meat balls, vegetarian chicken nuggets, vegetarian ham, vegetarian salami, vegetarian hamburger, vegetarian bacon, vegetarian meat salad, vegetarian mortadella.
It considers all as misleading sales denominations and, as such, in meat processors view should not be allowed.
The group also points to what it calls fancy names of products that refer or that are derived from the legal, customary names, or descriptive names of meat products and that from a consumer perspective may be confused with the name of meat products and/or tries to imitate them.
Example of this it says are “porc” instead of “pork”, “chiken” instead of “chicken”, “beaf” instead of “beef’.
Meat Industry Ireland (MII) the representatives of Irish meat processors is a member of Clitravi and supports the proposals.
It says its aim is to simply protect the use of well-established, traditional names and designations for meat products, as is currently done for dairy product names under EU legislation.
"The proposals ultimately ensure that consumer are not mislead," a spokesperson from MII said.