Senate inquiry launched into meat and protein alternative labeling

A Senate investigation into the use of animal protein labels by alternative proteins will specifically examine the potential harm to the meat industry. Queensland Senator Susan McDonald launched the inquiry, saying it was up to manufacturers of non-meat products to come up with their own product names rather than forgo animal protein labelling.

McDonald, a former butcher shop owner, recently set up the Parliamentary Friends of Red Meat advocacy group with Labor MP Milton Dick.

The survey follows a roundtable held last year on food labeling by federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

The Alternative Proteins Council (APC) warned against the inquiry becoming a debate between conventional proteins and new proteins, as it implied that new protein industries would develop at the expense of more conventional ones.

The PCA has yet to see evidence to substantiate general concerns about the labeling of herbal products and looks forward to presenting evidence to the contrary at the inquiry.

“It’s time to have an evidence-based conversation about the opportunity the emerging protein sectors present for Australian farmers and the important choice the category presents to consumers,” the council said.

“The success of both industries will be necessary to meet the clear challenge before us: to feed a world of 10 billion people by 2050 with limited resources.

“There is overwhelming evidence to show that diversification of the global protein supply is necessary and inevitable to meet the growing demand for protein. This opens up new opportunities for the thousands of Australian farmers and regional communities who will benefit from the growth of the plant-based protein sector.

The mandate of the Senate Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transportation Legislation is as follows:

a) The potential weakening of investment in Australian meat category brands due to product labeling appropriation by brands of plant-based or synthetic proteins manufactured, including:

  1. the use of plant or synthetic protein descriptors containing a reference to animal flesh or products made primarily from animal flesh, including but not limited to “meat”, “beef”, ‘lamb’ and ‘goat’; and
  2. the use of livestock images on plant or synthetic protein packaging or marketing materials.

b) The health implications of consuming highly manufactured protein products that are currently retailed with descriptors of red meat or images of livestock, including:

  1. consideration of unnatural additives used in the manufacturing process; and
  2. examination of the chemicals used in the production of these manufactured protein products.

c) The immediate and long-term social and economic impacts of the appropriation of the Australian meat grade brand on businesses, livestock farmers and individuals across regional, rural and remote Australia, including :

  1. reliance on imported ingredients;
  2. support for regional employment; and
  3. the state and commonwealth tax contribution from the Australian red meat and livestock sector.

d) Implications for other Australian animal products compromised by the appropriation of product labeling by plant-based or synthetic manufactured proteins.

e) any related matter.

Red Meat Advisory Council chairman John McKillop said allowing ‘highly processed plant protein made from imported ingredients to be labeled as Australian meat’ was a ‘national disgrace’.

“These highly processed and unnatural plant-based products are increasingly seen as a health risk and look nothing like the red meat produced by Australian farmers.

“The brand and reputation of natural beef, lamb and goat has been built over generations and is now being denigrated by companies who deliberately attempt to use piggyback marketing to sell an inferior product” , said McKillop.

The APC said companies producing plant-based alternatives use terms such as “sausages” to describe the format and usefulness of their product also use “clear qualifiers” like “plant-based” to communicate clearly its ingredients.

“It’s a common-sense, evidence-based approach. Branding of plant-based products continues to meet labeling requirements, demonstrating that existing frameworks are serving consumers as intended. Restricting the use of commonly understood format terms on herbal products would rather create confusion among consumers,” he said.

McDonald said that although the export legislation has clear definitions of meat as the product of an animal, there were gaps at the national level.

“There are intellectual property issues. The industry invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year to develop and improve the intellectual property and benefits of red meat in Australia, and it is important that these investments are protected.

“Like winemakers who want the exclusive use of certain wine names, I believe our Australian red meat industry should have exclusive use of product names that have meant only one thing for centuries. centuries.

“If you prefer tofu to T-bone then you go for it but forget about the ethics of eating animal products, this is about protecting a very valuable industry and also providing a clear distinction between the real thing and alternatives so consumers know exactly what they’re getting,” McDonald’s said.

The committee will present its report no later than the end of February 2022.

Submissions closing on August 16, 2021.

Norman D. Briggs