A European bid to have terms such as "sausage" and "burger" banned when using in relation to vegetarian food has been refuted by UK ministers.
Earlier this year, the House of Lords' EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee investigated a proposal from the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development which wanted to restrict the use of descriptions like “sausage”, “burger” and “steak ” to apply only to products containing meat and not to vegetarian alternatives.
The Committee wrote to the Government with concerns that the proposal did not have the evidence to justify it, would be costly for vegetarian businesses, and could put people off reducing their meat intake for health or environmental reasons.
Now Defra Minister of State Zac Goldsmith has written to the sub-committee, saying that “Vegetarian sausages and burgers have been on the UK and European market for many years now and where they are clearly and honestly labelled, as the large majority are, consumers are not at all misled”.
In the letter to committee chair Lord Teverson, Mr Goldsmith wrote: "Many people are reducing or eliminating meat from their diet while others continue to enjoy meat and we support the right of citizens to make those choices.
"Vegetarian sausages and burgers have been on the UK and European market for many years now and where they are clearly and honestly labelled, as the large majority are, consumers are not at all misled. There appears to be a growing demand for such foods and exciting opportunities for our great British food industry to meet this demand with new products. I agree with you that we should not stand in the way of these innovations, and that any problems that arise from the marketing of these foods can be addressed by existing legislation."
The committee has replied to the minister and has asked for more details on the Government’s position if the proposal is put forward during negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy reform.