Senate inquiry recommends clarity in plant-based protein labeling
A Senate investigation into the use of terms such as meat, chicken and beef on plant-based protein products has been concluded and recommendations have been made to ensure clarity in the packaging and labeling of these products.
The survey concluded that a higher level of clarity was needed for product labeling and packaging so that animal protein terminology and imagery is not applied to plant protein. He cites potential clarity issues for consumers as well as a push from animal protein producers as reasons for recommending the development of a mandatory regulatory framework for the labeling of plant-based protein products.
The investigation made nine recommendations for change. He identifies the regulatory areas he wants Food standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission revise.
After the review, it recommends that FSANZ develop guidelines to inform labeling and marketing practices for manufacturers of plant-based protein products. It also recommends that FSANZ initiate consultations with stakeholders on amending the FSANZ Code to include:
- a definition of vegetable protein products; and
- minimum compositional requirements for vegetable protein products.
The survey says it wants to ensure a high degree of clarity to ensure that protein products, whether meat or plant-based, are sufficiently labeled and export-ready to support Australia’s agricultural industries.
Seafood Industry Australia, the Red Meat Advisory Council and the Australian Dairy Industry Council were all very receptive to the findings of the survey, welcomed the change in labeling regulations and endorsed the recommendations made by the survey.
“The recommendations from the survey are vital to the future of the animal protein industries, including seafood, to protect our name, definitions, brands, integrity systems and, more importantly, our transparency with consumers,” said Australian seafood industry CEO Veronica Papacosta.
“The report’s recommended overhaul of the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards code and the exemption of named ‘categories’ of meat, seafood and dairy products – meaning terms like soymilk will not should not be allowed – is the first step needed to address these misconceptions,” said Australian Dairy Council President Rick Gladigau.
“The recommendations made in today’s report confirm the industry’s long-standing view that minimum regulated standards are needed to prohibit manufacturers of plant-based protein products from referencing traditional animal proteins. such as ‘beef’, ‘lamb’ and ‘goat’, and to use images of livestock on vegetable protein packaging or marketing materials,” said Red Meat Advisory Council Independent Chairman John McKillop when the report was released.
Conversely, the Alternative Protein Council expressed dissatisfaction with the results of the investigation, arguing that it was taking a heavy-handed approach and that the recommendations could negatively impact the thriving plant-based protein industry. He quoted the Australian Greens dissenting report who rejected the recommendations and urged policy makers to consider a voluntary framework instead of a mandatory one.
The Senate inquiry report, titled “Don’t Mince Your Words: Definitions of Meat and Other Animal Products,” was released Feb. 24 and is available here.