For years the vegetarian and vegan food industry has routinely used terms which are traditionally related to meat to describe plant based foods. Vegetarian sausages and nuggets, Quorn mince and the oddly named “Facon” all reference the meat product they purport to replace in the name, and this has been an accepted fact until now. The surge in research and production of plant based and lab grown alternative proteins has sparked a debate in terminology, with many in the meat industry worried about the implications for packaging and labelling.
France has banned the use of meat related terms on meat-free products, in a move that has rallied the nation’s farmers and butchers. The French people are notoriously protective of their language and it is no surprise that the issue has reared it’s head there first. Supporters of the move claim that such terminology is misleading to consumers, especially when these products are nearby on the shelves. Opponents say that people are not confused about what they are buying and that the ban is not needed, but it is an interesting move and one the global meat industry will be heeding as plant based proteins and lab grown meat loom on the horizon.
The issue of labelling terminology and clarity for lab grown meat will surely spark further debate, as technically the product is meat, just made artificially far away from a farm or butcher. One thing is for sure, UK consumers are incredibly determined to ensure clarity on packaging so this isn’t the last we will see of the topic.