While Australia continues to produce clean, green and safe animal protein, the demand for “fake meat” and “vegan meat” has led to supermarkets and restaurants offering products labelled “meats” which don’t come from a paddock or pen.
Since the 1920s, scientists have sought to develop foods which look, feel and taste like animal protein, though are comprised of plant-sourced molecules, yeasts, gums and seasoning. While these products have largely been sold within the domain of vegetables and health foods, they have made their way into the mainstream where fast-food outlets and grocery stores now count them as some of their highest growth sales items and place them alongside beef, lamb and poultry products.
Apart from the locations at which these products are offered in stores, objections have been raised by Australian agriculture industry bodies and consumer groups to the use of the word “meat” in labelling these goods.
In Queensland, there are no restrictions under the Food Standards Code regarding the use of the word “meat” to describe items which are not derived from animals. Under the Australia wide AUS-MEAT language, there are detailed guides as to how the language of meat products and cuts should be communicated, though there is no exclusivity claimed for the use of the word “meat” to describe only animal proteins.
Globally, the situation is changing as France has banned the use of “meat” and “dairy” related terms (including burger, bacon, sausage, milk and cheese) to non-animal derived products and Missouri in the USA has banned the use of the term “meat” to be applied to anything other than a product originating from livestock.
The Red Meat Advisory Council has indicated that it will engage with the Queensland and Federal Governments to clarify labelling laws and it remains to be seen whether there will be any regulatory action taken to preserve the use of the term for animal products or to allow it be used to describe products which are not derived from the natural growth of livestock.