CANBERRA, Australia — A Senate committee in Australia will soon scrutinize vegan and vegetarian food masquerading as meat.
Nationals senator Susan McDonald has launched an inquiry into food labeling laws as the Australian red meat industry seeks to protect the provenance of its products.
The former butcher said it was up to makers of non-meat products to come up with their different terms instead of piggybacking off long-established animal proteins like mince and sausages.
“There are intellectual property issues, and in our export legislation, we have clear definitions of meat being the product of an animal, but there are gaps domestically,” she said in a statement.
“The industry invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year to develop and enhance the intellectual property and benefits of red meat in Australia, and these investments must be protected.
“Just like winemakers wanting exclusive use of some wine names, I feel strongly that our Aussie red meat industry should have sole use of product names that have meant only one thing for centuries.”
“It is a national disgrace that highly processed plant-based protein made from imported ingredients are allowed to be labeled as Australian meat,” he said.
“Every day, 434,000 proud farmers, livestock transporters, meat workers, and butchers work together to provide families with natural, nutritious, and healthy meat.
“Through droughts, floods, and fires, our industry has always been there to supply the safest and highest quality meat to Australian consumers.
“These highly processed, unnatural plant-based products are increasingly seen as a health risk and are in no way similar to the red meat produced by Australian farmers.”
McKillop said the brand and reputation of Australian beef, lamb, and the goat had been built over generations and were now denigrated by companies deliberately ripping off their marketing to sell inferior products.
“Infringing a trademarked brand to sell another product is unlawful in Australia, and so should be the use of our industry’s collective owned meat category brands if a product is not from the flesh of an animal,” McKillop said.
The inquiry will investigate the economic effects of non-animal protein marketing on Australia’s red meat industry.
It will also examine the legality of using livestock imagery on vegan products and the health benefits of non-animal protein manufacturing processes.
“If you prefer tofu to T-bone, then you go for it but forget the ethics of eating animal products; this is about protecting a precious industry and also providing a clear distinction between the real thing and the alternatives, so consumers know exactly what they’re getting,” McDonald said.
(Edited by Gaurab Dasgupta and Ojaswin Kathuria.)
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