Canadian Meat Council hits back at plant-based foods

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Canadian Meat Council hits back at plant-based foods
The head of the Canadian Meat Council (CMC) has hit back against the practice of plant-based foods using meat terminology such as ‘sausages’ and ‘burgers’.

In a post for the Toronto Star​ as part of a wider feature on the topic, CMC president Chris White explained why plant-based foods shouldn’t be using traditional meat terms for their products.

“The old saying goes, ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness’. After all, most imitations fail to live up to the high quality of the original and when it comes to nomenclature, using terminology that suggests the original and imitation are the same will only serve to confuse consumers.”

This follows a complaint made by the Quebec Cattle Producers Federation, which was backed by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about the use of meat terms when promoting plant-based products.

Citing Canadian food regulations, White said: “Consumers must not be misled as to the true nature of these simulated meat and simulated poultry products.

“Therefore, the complete common name ‘Simulated (naming the meat or poultry)’ must appear on labels and in advertisements for all simulated meat and poultry products.” These clear rules aimed at avoiding consumer confusion should exclude any plant-based product from calling itself meat.”

White did express understanding as to why plant-based foods would want to use this terminology. “A new wave of plant-based companies are hoping to change that dynamic and it makes sense why they aim to use meat terminology: meat is beloved in Canada and around the world. Meat was a prime contributor to the development of the human brain as we evolved, and has been nourishing us for millennia. As wealth increases in developing countries, adding meat to the diet is one of the first steps people take.

“For marketers seeking to make a splash, naming their product after something so ingrained and beloved is a simple way to try to latch on to that product’s popularity, but it shouldn’t involve violating consumer expectation and long-standing government regulations.”

He also moved to defend the meat industry against environmental harm claims. “Today, we’re able to produce more meat using fewer animals, water, land and other resources than ever before. It’s a true industry success story that will continue to improve as the industry seeks to improve its environmental footprint.

“There have been many claims made about the environmental impact of plant-based products, with little science to back those up, so it’s hard to make a true comparison. It is unclear if the plant-based products will be able to maintain what they claim is a limited environmental impact as they work to scale up production.”

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Labeling and display

Posted by Leon Gaudet,

I agree wholeheartedly with the objections being raised by the CMC on this matter. This company should not be able to use the word Meat anywhere on their packaging as it contains zero meat. It is a direct effort to mislead the consumer. They also have somehow managed to get their product in the meat section at Retail level and frankly that is WRONG as well. This should be in the veggie section along with all the other Beyond Meat competition. It would have been nice to see stronger support from all the Major Retailers for all the Meat suppliers throughout the country who have forever supplied fresh wholesome meats for their counters.

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Misleading Descriptions

Posted by Chris,

Incredible that the meat industry and its proponents go out of their way to avoid the use of the words "slaughterhouse" and "abattoir" in their description of killing operation sites, preferring to use the nondescript word "plants" or "processors" instead. However, the meat industry and its governmental cronies scream "foul" when plant alternative foods are available to the public, similar in texture and taste of meat - but without involvement in animal welfare abuses and cruelty, inherently associated with meat. The underlying issue of course is to stop any competition for the meat industry - and of course the subsequent loss of revenue. The recent argument by the meat industry that consumers would be confused by plant based alternatives with similar descriptions to meat is just puerile and an insult to the intelligence of shoppers. The proposed suggestion that plant burgers should be called "discs", highlights the idiocy of the situation.

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Posted by Mark Elia,

If the meat industry has to abide by labeling rules set forth by the USDA, as not to mis represent an item or ingredients, then plant based processors should have to follow the same. It appears to me that they want to ride the coat tails of success with the hassle of proper labeling.
Thank you CMC for your efforts. I am with you 1000% .
Mark Elia
Hudson Valley Sausage Company

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