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Veggie tubes proposal a misteak

24 July 2019

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee writes to Minister Robert Goodwill MP raising concerns about an EU proposal to ban the use of words like "sausage" and "burger" to describe foods that don't contain meat.

In early April, the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development agreed to seek to restrict the use of descriptions like "sausage", "burger" and "steak" to apply only to products containing meat and not to vegetarian alternatives. The Committee hosted a discussion on the proposal with relevant stakeholders, hearing a range of views from the food industry, from the National Farmers' Union to Quorn Foods.

From this discussion, the Committee has written to the Minister highlighting that:

  • There is no evidence that consumers are being confused by vegetarian foods being labelled with such names.
  • The creation of new words to describe vegetarian foods may create confusion.
  • It would be costly for businesses selling vegetarian foods to make changes and that, without any evidence that consumers are being confused, the changes might be for no benefit.
  • The proposal could put people off reducing their meat intake for health or environmental reasons, as recommended by recent scientific reports. 

The Committee has asked the Minister what the Government position is on the proposal and if it would consider implementing something similar after Brexit. A letter expressing concern was also sent to the Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

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