Germany: vote on meat terminology for veggie products
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Rissoles, bratwurst, cutlets or steak: In Germany, it is still allowed to describe vegan-vegetarian products just like their counterparts of animal origin – but only if the “Guideline on naming vegetarian and vegan food,” as formulated by a committee of experts, is included in the German Food Code (the legal foundation for food legislation in Germany). The guideline has been submitted to the various associations for discussion and a vote is underway.
In the committee, the German Vegetarian Association argued that meat terminology should be permitted. Federal Minister for Agriculture Christian Schmidt, The German Farmers' Federation and the German Butchers' Association were all opposed to the guideline.
Till Strecker, head of policy at the Vegetarian Association, says: “The decision in favour of expressions like 'vegan cutlet' and 'vegetarian bratwurst' is in the interest of everyone who wants to buy clearly and attractively labelled products.” He thinks it makes sense to label alternative vegan and vegetarian products with the same words that are used for foods with ingredients of animal origin, because people can then identify the product’s various characteristics at a glance.
As to whether the term "vegan steak" is permissible, a currently running vote will decide.
Picture © Katrin Muhl
Meat-free 'salami' to remain taboo
According to the guideline, other words that describe cuts of meat like fillet or refer to the species of animal must not be used for vegan-vegetarian products. Special names like 'salami' will only be permitted when used in descriptions such as 'salami-style vegan tofu sausage'. “There is no perceptible logic behind this. Where there's no need, we're seeing arbitrary differentiation between product categories regarding permissible names and complicated language constructs. There's no way we'll be able to make customers comprehend and it's certainly not in the interest of consumers,” says Strecker.
Background: the German Food Code Commission
The German Food Code Commission, that comes under the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, describes the characteristics of foods and their presentation in its guidelines. The Food Code is an important point of reference for the food industry and food legislation.
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