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What's the beef? Veggie burger ban rejected by MEPs

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By Darren McCaffrey
Hamburger   -   Copyright  AP

When is a burger not a burger? Should a sausage ever be allowed to be meat-free? And what about vegan smoked salmon, is that even a thing?

MEPs have voted against limiting the use of words such as “steak”, “sausage”, and “burger” to meat products -- something the farming industry has been campaigning for.

'We need to make a difference between the products, and meat is certainly different in its nutritional value than the meat replacements. In fact it is a highly processed, ultra-processed product that goes against the relatively natural product of meat," explains Pekka Pesonen, the Secretary General of Copa-Cogeca organisation representing farmers in Brussels.

Why change a system if it is not broken?
Jasmijn De Boo
Vice President, ProVeg International

Vegan alternatives however are increasingly popular with new plant-based substitutes that mimic the look, taste, and mouthfeel of real meat.

“We believe the name burger or sausage or any descriptive term, says something about the characteristic of the product," says Jasmijn de Boo, Vice-President ProVeg International.

She explains that the proposals are mainly aimed at avoiding confusion for customers, but, she argues they are not confused.

"They know perfectly well when they buy a vegetarian sausage that there is no meat in the sausage and that's what they are looking for but at the same time they are looking for the texture and the taste and the way to prepare it."

She says the names are 'here to stay' and that they are even included in dictionaries, having been around for decades.

EU member states already have the power to issue their own food labeling laws in a bid to prevent consumers from being misled. In fact, France already passed similar legislation earlier this year.

So ultimately for many customers, whether you enjoy a veggie sausage or one stuffed with pork, you might feel MEPs should direct their beef to more meaty issues.