IN THE NEWS: On APR 5, 2019
- Protected words would include steak, sausage, escalope, burger and hamburger
- The proposal could take years to be brought before full European Parliament
- Means the change may not affect Britain if it leaves the EU before it passes
- European Court of Justice warned in 2017 that dairy substitutes had to re-brand
Restaurants could see veggie burgers vanish from their menus after a Brussels committee ordered them to be replaced by 'veggie discs'.
Vegan sausages and soya products could also be re-labelled following a vote in the European Parliament on revisions to food-labelling regulations.
But Britain may not be affected by the proposals - which my take years to come into effect - if it leaves the European Union as planned.
Veggie disc has emerged as a possible name for the plant-based burgers.
Some MEPs have described the vote as being motivated by pressure from the meat industry when the parliament's agriculture committee approved a ban on producers of vegetarian food using words typically used to describe meat products.
Protected words would include steak, sausage, escalope, burger and hamburger under the revised legislation.
The vote passed after it was approve by 80 per cent of the committee - 29 in favour, seven against and one abstention.
It will be voted on by the full parliament following European elections in May and will be put before member states and the European Commission.
But Britain may not adopt the changes as Prime Minister Theresa May seeks a 'termination clause' to allow the UK to leave the EU on May 22 – the day before European elections - if a deal can be pushed through the UK Parliament.
But if this fails, the delay is likely to extend until at least the end of the year, meaning the new regulation may affect the country if it is passed in that time.
The French socialist MEP Éric Andrieu, who has overseen the legislation named compromise amendment 41, said the prohibition was 'common sense'.
'The meat lobby is not involved in this,' he told the Guardian.
'It has generated a considerable debate among the political groups and a large majority wanted to clarify things.
'Particularly in the light of history, the history we share, you can have a steak or burger, you can't call it something else.'
The decision to protect meat-related terms and names 'exclusively for edible parts of the animals' was opposed by groups such as Greenpeace and Birdlife.
They claimed it was a blow to the sustainable food industry.
Marco Contiero, policy director at Greenpeace EU agriculture, told the Independent: 'This ridiculous proposal shows the lengths the EU parliament's agriculture committee will go to to promote factory farming of meat and dairy, whether at the expense of the environment, rural communities or, in this case, plain common sense.
'This is nothing more than a cynical attempt to undermine an emerging market in meat and dairy alternatives which greatly benefits farmers, consumers and the planet.'
Green MEP Molly Scott Cato added: 'It wasn't as if people were buying veggie burgers and asking: 'Where's my meat?'
It comes after Europe's top court, the European Court of Justice, warned in 2017 that dairy substitutes had to be re-branded because they did not contain milk from an animal.
During a surge in sales of the products in recent years - inspired by the popularity of vegan diets - the court said customers were being misled.
In its ruling, judges also insisted products labelled as cheese or butter that did not involve milk from an animal were being described incorrectly.
The case was referred by a German court after a company called TofuTown was challenged by a consumer protection group for selling products such as 'soyatoo tofu butter' and 'veggie cheese'.