15 Sep 2019

Aussie party push for ban on plant-based products being called 'milk', 'meat', 'seafood'

6:25 pm on 15 September 2019

Australian politicians want the names 'milk' and 'meat' to be banned for use for plant products.

A plant based non-meat burger.

A plant-based burger. Photo: 123rf

The Australian National party look set to lobby the Federal Government to ban the terms 'milk', 'meat' and 'seafood' from being used for alternative and plant-based products such as soy milk and so-called 'fake' meat.

The motion, which was moved by the WA Nationals and amended to include meat and seafood as well as milk, calls for the Coalition to 'lead reform' and was passed at the party's Federal Council meeting.

It follows efforts by the dairy industry to reclaim the word 'milk' and calls from the National Farmers Federation for more clarity on the definitions of milk and meat-related products.

In New Zealand, Federated Farmers have indicated it may try to get similar rule changes here, if the move is successful overseas.

Australian Nationals MPs and farm groups have also taken issue with the labelling of 'fake', or plant-based, meat products and their placement in supermarkets.

New South Wales Senator Perrin Davey argued in favour of the motion, describing plant-based meat products as "highly processed, unidentifiable protein".

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie said she wants to attend a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in November, to receive and consider advice on how the terms could be better defined or enforced.

Australian-based Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher makes a range of vegetarian meat alternatives, including patties, schnitzel and sausages.

Soy Sausages, made by Australian-based Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian butcher, which also makes vegetarian burger patties and schnitzel. Photo: Supplied /.Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher

"If you want chicken - natural chicken, actual chicken - then that's what it should be called. If you want plant-based protein that tastes like chicken, then that's what it should be called," she said.

"At the moment, there's ambiguity and, I would suggest, deliberate attempts by some of these plant-based protein manufacturers to trade on the good, honest work of our meat producers or our milk producers."

She dismissed suggestions that she was did not support farmers who produced plant-based milk and meat products.

"I am a full supporter of our pea farms. I enjoy eating peas."

Labelling laws are developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand and enforced by state and territory departments, agencies and local councils, as well as the Federal Agriculture Department.

Under existing rules, when the term 'milk' is used on its own, it is inferred to mean cow's milk, and if the milk is from other species or another source, it should be described as such; for example, sheep milk, goat milk or almond milk.

Similar debates on milk and meat have been underway in Europe and the United States.

Milk and cookies.

'Soy juice' and cookies, doesn't have the same ring. Photo: 123RF

In Canada, laws already exist that prohibit dairy alternatives being labelled as milk.

Labor's Agriculture spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, said his party agreed the Government should take action on milk labelling.

"But it's now been a controversy for at least five years," he said.

"The Nationals should not expect any thanks from farmers after doing nothing for so long. Then, of course, there is their inaction on all the other market power issues that are adversely impacting on the dairy sector."


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