The farm lobby is furious at plant-based products being labelled as “mince” in supermarkets. (ABC Rural: Sally Bryant)
Plant-based products labelled “meat” or “milk” will have to be rebranded if the Federal Government is successful in lobbying for a change of food standards.
Regional Services Minister Bridget McKenzie will today ask a food regulation forum to back her bid to have Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) review terminology and crack down on imitation and so-called fake foods.
Senator McKenzie said products labelled meat and milk should only come from animals, like honey has to be a pure product from bees.
“I want consumers to have confidence that when they buy honey, it’s honey — when they buy meat, it’s beef from an animal and when they buy milk, it is actually produced by a dairy cow,” she said.
“I just want truth in labelling and consumers to have confidence that they are not being misled.”
Senator McKenzie said changes were needed to protect the reputation of Australian farmers and the products they produced.
She said farmers feared their businesses were at risk because shoppers often did not realise they were buying plant-based products, rather than products from animals.
But she insisted it was not a veiled attempt to stop the growth of plant-based products.
“I don’t have an issue at all with alternative sources of protein or plant-based diets,” Senator McKenzie said.
She said as an increasing number of consumers were not eating animal products because of allergies or philosophical beliefs, “that’s their decision but we need to be careful [we] don’t confuse the marketplace and we still protect the reputation, hard earned by our clean, green farmers”.
The meeting in Adelaide will bring together food ministers from across Australia and New Zealand.
In April, France banned the use of meat and dairy-related terms on vegan and vegetarian plant-based alternatives.
In the US, Missouri became the first state to pass a law preventing food producers from marketing products as meat, if the food did not come from harvested livestock or poultry.
Federal National Party politicians have been vocal critics of plant-based protein products being labelled as mince.
Queensland senator Barry O’Sullivan went further and called for plant-based products called mince to be stripped from shelves and re-labelled.
Senator McKenzie said new regulations should also govern how plant-based products were marketed within supermarkets.
“I think people have been very, very clever with the marketing of these products,” Senator McKenzie said.
“I think it says something about the reputation of the original that those that are seeking to fake it want to be seen in the same place of the supermarket, using the same language — indeed even dying the product so it looks like the original.
“I think we need to be backing the original product and making sure it can carve out a unique space in the marketplace and that should be protected.”