EU crackdown to rename vegetarian burgers 'veggie discs' branded totally unnecessary

Vegan meal. Chickpea veggie burger with fresh vegetables on rustic cutting board

EU proposals to force vegetarian burgers and sausages to be renamed veggie discs and veggie tubes have been branded ‘totally unnecessary’.

A Brussels committee announced plans earlier this year to ban vegetarian products from using meat-related terminology in their names.

France has already banned vegetarian and vegan products from being called sausages and burgers.

Mark Banahan, campaigns and policy officer for the Vegan Society, told the House of Lords EU energy and environment sub-committee the idea was ‘poorly conceived’ and ‘totally unnecessary’.

“Commonly used terms like this are not new, so why the drive to restrict these terms now?” he said.

“We've yet to see any evidence that consumers are confused by these terms. To implement these changes now would actually create confusion rather than elevate it.”

Quorn canapes are served during the launch of Quorn's 'Vegan Fishless Fillets range' (PA Images)

Geoff Bryant, technical director of meat-free product giant Quorn Foods, agreed.

He told the committee: “We totally oppose the proposal, it's absolutely unnecessary.

“In over 30 years of making meat free products we’ve not had single person complain to us they’ve been misled. We think it’s disproportionate."

The Vegetarian Society's Laura Sears warned the new terms would confuse customers and be 'very expensive' for businesses to implement.

"When people buy these products there looking for the term veggie burger and veggie sausage," she said.

"Terms such as discs and tubes aren't associated with food. The proposal would lead to more confused shoppers."

But Ruth Edge, food chain advisor for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) claimed issues over clarity arose from meat-free products that refer to a specific cut of meat or type of protein, such as cauliflower steaks and chicken-style nuggets.

She said: "We are quite concerned about 'ripping off' or mimicking terms such as 'chicken-style'.

“For example there's a product called vegetarian shredded duck. Well is the duck vegetarian or is it a vegetarian product? What is it?

"I take the point that all the information is on the back of the label but I think you'll find most customers don't turn over to packet to actually analyse that in any way."

The discussion took place a few days after KFC announced the launch of a vegan ‘chicken burger’.

The deep-fried Quorn patty with dairy-free mayonnaise will initially go on sale for four weeks in selected stores in London, Bristol and the Midlands.

It follows the much-hyped launch of a vegan sausage roll by Gregg’s, the success of which saw the fast food chain raise its profit guidance for the third time in a year in May.

Consumer insight firm Kantar estimates 3% of Brits identify as vegan and a further 3% are vegetarian.

9% of the population call themselves ‘semi-vegetarian’ or ‘flexitarian’.