THE National Beef Association (NBA) has called on tougher regulations over the labelling and branding of food products, after ‘Veganuary’ brought a raft of new meat-free food variations to stores.
The association said that greater traceability and nutritional values should be demonstrated on food packaging. NBA chairman, Andrew Laughton, commented, “During the month of January alone, we have seen the arrival of many new ‘no-meat’ product ranges, with misleading labelling and little reflection of equivalent nutritional values.
“We see the example across the Channel, led by French producers, whereby non-meat-based products must clearly be identified and labelled as such. This faux-meat branding ban means producers using terms such as ‘steak’, ‘sausage’ or ‘burger’ for food free of animal products will face hefty fines, yet we are seeing major high-street food retailers in the UK bringing out more ranges such as ‘vegan-steak bakes’.
“The Greggs vegan steak bake, for example, is made using Quorn pieces, which are actually made from a fungus, thus making the claim of a ‘steak bake’ spurious at best, and I would suggest that most consumers are unaware that it is effectively derived from a mould.
“To me, this smacks of a whole movement piggybacking on the ethical, traceable and trusted food source provided by the UK beef industry, and undermines the nutritional values of red meat.”
The NBA added that stronger measures should be enforced for the labelling and branding of products, so as to highlight the UK farmers who provide ‘safe, traceable and nutritious’ food.
“We could also point to carbon footprint labelling. With Boris Johnson welcoming beef imports from Uganda in a post-Brexit pledge to Ugandan farmers, it is crucial we focus on the environmental contribution and welfare standards of home-produced beef products.
“We also see the environmental impact in the production of certain faux-meat food products, but where is this demonstrated on the shop shelves?” he added.
Packaging Scotland has approached Greggs to ask for a comment on the NBA’s remarks.