Will it still be possible to talk about a 'veg burger'?
European Court of Justice ruling on 'meat sounding' to come soon
23, Aug 2023
As has already happened with assisted evolution techniques, Europe could closely follow the line drawn by Italy. Media sources believe that a ruling by the European Court of Justice on the controversial issue of "meat sounding" is imminent. In its sentence, therefore, the Court should express itself on the correct denomination of products such as the "veg burger", which, despite being on the rise in terms of sales and popularity, risk arousing misunderstandings and confusion, to the detriment of meat producers themselves said.
“This case will determine once and for all whether the European Union takes a harmonized approach to plant-based food labels or force companies and consumers to deal with up to 27 different rules,” said Elena Walden, senior policy manager at the Good Food Institute. Europe. According to Walden, the interpretation of the EU judges will have far-reaching implications for the sector, precisely to the extent of the national laws being approved in countries such as Belgium and, precisely, Italy.
The issue was raised in the context of the latest CAP reform, but an attempt to ban veggie burgers was rejected by the European Parliament in 2020 when MEPs voted against a series of amendments aimed at reserving meat-related terms and names exclusively for edible parts of animals. A 2021 French law aimed at providing consumers with greater transparency on food labeling has banned the use of names commonly associated with food products of animal origin to market products containing plant proteins such as veggie burgers or vegan sausages.
The decree has been challenged by vegetarian and vegan activists such as the European Vegetarian Union (Evu) and their national association Végétarienne de France (AVF), who have questioned its compatibility with European legislation. As for the latest developments, in early August, the French Council of State decided to refer the case to the European Court of Justice as the main interpreter of EU law. Once the Court of Justice has clarified whether member states can introduce their own laws on the matter, the Council of State will take the case back to court.
As far as Italy is concerned, last month, the Senate included a law to protect meat-based foods within the bill banning synthetic foods and feed (see EFA News). The crux of the matter is the terminology attributed to plant-based alternatives, particularly with regard to the labeling of products which, while not containing a single gram of meat, are called steak, sausage, scallop or hamburger and which currently do not they are regulated.