Labelling of meat alternatives: a damaging legislative proposal for all

22 March 2023

On 29 December 2022, Mirco Carloni, the President of the Agriculture Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, presented a bill proposing a ban on the use of meat-related names for plant-based products. This proposed that terms such as ‘burger’ or ‘sausage’ referring to plant-based products would no longer be used.

The rationale behind this proposal is based on the belief that plant-based products do not have the same nutritional value or content as products made from real livestock and would therefore mislead consumers into believing that plant-based products have an exact nutritional equivalent of the meat product.

“Here at Atlante, we believe that this bill is a retro-grade step, as the reduction of meat consumption is crucial for the wellbeing of our planet. More importantly in terms of CO2 emissions, 57.23% of Italian emissions are due to food production, in particular of meat and eggs, as well as the consumption of land and water,” commented Natasha Linhart, CEO Atlante, who added, “Plant-based alternatives are a far more sustainable solution. This is why we find that this bill not only fails to protect consumers, but also can potentially do great damage to the environment around us.”

It is worth remembering that consumers do not perceive the naming of meat alternatives as misleading. According to a study published in 2020 by ‘The European Consumer Organisation’, 88% of respondents were in favour of using these terms. In fact, according to most, the market for plant-based alternatives is now so well established that it is no longer a source of misunderstanding.

The draft legislation proposed is counterintuitive to all international trends. In October 2020, the European Union rejected a very similar proposal, as well as one other a few months later, aimed at introducing further restrictions for plant-based beverages such as milk alternatives. Even in countries such as Switzerland the idea of being able to call meat substitutes by the name of the animal itself, e.g. vegan ‘chicken’ or ‘pork’, has been considered in recent months.

This proposal is an attempt to slow down the growth of this market and indirectly undermine the EU’s plans for a sustainable food system. This is why EssereAnimali, the leading Italian Animal Rights Organisation, has launched a petition to block this bill, which we invite you to sign in order to build a more sustainable future together.

Atlante is proud to support this cause and this is actively being promoted on our web pages for Plant Heroes and Vegamo plant-based alternatives.