House of Lords sub-committee to debate vegetarian food labelling

Houses of Parliament

The House of Lords will this week play host to a debate regarding whether it is appropriate to use words such as ‘sausage’ and ‘burger’ to describe meat-free products.

A European Parliament proposal which stated the descriptions should be applied only to products containing meat will be discussed by a group of experts before the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee.

The proposal was originally put forward at the beginning of April by the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, with the committee claiming that the use of descriptions like “sausage”, “burger” and “steak” to apply to vegetarian alternatives was misleading and confusing to consumers.

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The group will discuss whether there is any evidence that applying these words indiscriminately misleads consumers about the nature and nutritional value of the food they are purchasing, as well as asking if the proposal might actually make food packaging less clear.

Members will also be exploring what changes, additions or exceptions would improve the proposal, and whether it would be beneficial for the UK to follow suit if this rule were introduced in the EU post-Brexit.

Lord Teverson, chair of the Sub-Committee, said: “As more people move towards a plant-based diet, the question of how we identify and describe vegetarian and vegan food is increasingly relevant. In holding this roundtable we’re intending to test the merits of this proposal, and find out what it would mean for consumers and for the food industry.”

The experts that will appear before the committee include: Ruth Edge from the National Farmers’ Union; Laura Sears from the Vegetarian Society; Jackie Kearney, a chef; Mark Banahan from the Vegan Society; and Geoff Bryant from Quorn Foods.

The evidence session will begin at 10:30am on Wednesday 19 June in Committee room 2 of the House of Lords and is open to the public.

Tags : House of Lordslegislationvegetarian
Patrick Cremona

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