We will now demand that the European institutions also take note of this
17, Nov 2023
Yesterday, 16 November 2023, the regulatory text regulating the use of meat names on vegetable protein-based products was approved, placing a brake and a clear ban on the phenomenon of meat sounding.
As is known, we are talking about that practice which is now widespread thanks to the skilful marketing activity of certain companies, whereby plant-based products are put on sale with names that recall or expressly mention meat-based products: 'vegetable hamburger', 'bresaola of wheat', 'vegan mortadella' are just some examples of this anomalous market practice.
"It is good that Parliament has approved this rule which prohibits the use of meat names on products that do not contain meat - comments Davide Calderone, director of Assica - it is a cultural achievement and common sense for correct competition between operators in the food sector. Now the regulation must be promptly implemented to give substance to the correct principles it contains".
The approved text in fact provides for the issuing of a decree by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry (Masaf) for the identification of meat denominations not to be used on plant-based products. The discipline adopted by Italy is not the first on the global scene: France and South Africa have already approved explicit provisions in this regard. Within the EU, however, there were past attempts to regulate the matter in a similar way to what was done for milk and its derivatives, but without the proposals managing to reach regulatory status. It is a distinction that the majority of consumers will probably consider more linked to common sense and which perhaps should not even have required Parliament's involvement in establishing such specific legislative rules.
However, the intervention was necessary to protect the historicity of production of an entire supply chain: as explained by the MPs supporting the initiative, "words have weight" and in this case the weight derives from the great extent of history, tradition and expert, specialized manpower, which is involved in the livestock supply chain at every level. A social impact which is also very different in plant-based production and which the promoters of the standard believe it is correct to keep distinct.
"We would like to particularly thank the vice president of the Hon'ble Senate Gian Marco Centinaio and the President of the Agriculture Commission of the Hon'ble Chamber Mirco Carloni whose commitment and attention to the dossier were key to the success of the initiative and the satisfaction of the sectors directly protected by the law", declares Davide Calderone.
Conversely, the detractors of the law have always underlined how plant-based productions should not be penalised, because they are widely appreciated by the consumer public, who clearly knows how to distinguish and choose them and because they are more in line with modern lifestyles and dietary regimes. "The correct use of names relating to meat has nothing to do with the penalization of plant based products. Honestly - continues Calderone - we don't understand why so-called plant based products, which are so keen to stand out by communicating that they position themselves on a superior to meat in terms of diet, nutritional values, even environmental impact, always end up offering themselves to the public with the names of the products from which they distance themselves. In many cases these vegetable products represent an expression of strong innovation in the food sector, but we believe it is unjustified and It is inexplicable that these plant-based products continue to exploit the fame and reputation of meat products that they try to imitate in appearance. We are pleased that this rule finally clarifies what is correct to communicate and what is not."
"Now our objective is to go to Europe to ask that the EU also adopt regulations on the matter, in a similar way to what has already happened for the milk sector" - continues Calderone. "The rules on food must be common in the entire single market. This is not a war on products of plant origin, I repeat, but a battle to defend a supply chain of which the same people who try to highlight its limits on the one hand, on the other, are trying to take over the merits, evoking in the consumer the irreplaceable nutritional contribution, the cultural-gastronomic tradition and the peculiar professionalism of a sector with a centuries-old history, precisely that of meat processing".
"We hope - concluded Calderone - that the Government's commitment can be expressed with equal strength in the eradication activities of ASF, a veterinary disease which has afflicted the basic pig sector since January 2022 to which, also in the budget law, we hope they can be dedicated adequate resources for support, protection and continuous valorisation".