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European Union Allows Plant-Based Foods to be Labeled as “Burgers” and “Sausages”

The European Union (EU) rejected all proposals that attempted to reserve the term “meat” only for products containing meat, thus allowing plant-based products to use meat-related terminology across Europe. Amendment 165 was introduced to the EU lawmakers to lessen consumer confusion about meat terms used on plant-based products. The Amendment would have required the term “meat” to be used for products that come from an edible part of an animal.

Many agricultural groups across the EU supported the Amendment. COPA-COGECA, a Brussels-based union and the largest farmer’s association in Europe, launched a campaign called “ceci n’est pas un steak”, translating to “This is not a Steak” in protest of what it called “cultural hijacking” that it said hurt hard-working farmers.

On the other side, the European Consumer Organization, a group uniting consumers’ associations, praised the decision and stating, “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,” 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.”

EU lawmakers did support Amendment 171, which expands existing restrictions on dairy-related terms. Terms such as ‘almond milk’ and ‘vegan cheese’ are already banned on EU products, but Amendment 171 now restricts dairy alternatives from using descriptive terms such as ‘yogurt style’ and ‘cheese alternative’. This is considered a win for the European dairy industry.