What do you call a burger that isn’t made of meat? If it were up to meat industry groups, the name would not have a mention of “meat” anywhere in it. In Missouri and Arkansas, legislators have actually fought the term “plant-based meat” by passing laws that prohibit them from being labeled as “meat” or with meat terms such as “sausage” if they are not actually from animals.
To ward off attacks from the meat industry, the Plant-Based Food Association, which is made up of more than 160 plant-based food companies, has released the first-ever standards for labeling plant-based meat alternatives. The aim of the voluntary standard is to promote consistency in labeling across the plant-based meat category, which grew by more than 10% last year at the grocery.
The recently released meat alternative standards do allow for references to the type of animal meat (chicken, sausage, etc.) and the form of the product (nuggets, tenders, burgers) that these plant-based products represent, as long as there is a qualifier that clearly indicates the item is plant-based or vegetarian.
Those qualifiers can include phrases such as “plant-based,” “vegan,” “meatless,” “meat-free,” “vegetarian,” “veggie,” “made from plants,” and other similar terms. That qualifier also has to be in a prominent position on the display panel, the standards note.
Even though these products don’t contain actual meat, the PBFA believes it’s important that the label continues to reference the type of meat being imitated in order to attract customers.