A beef hamburger

Fake vs real: inside the meat labelling war

As increasing numbers of fake meat products enter the market, how do we separate the real deal from the immitators? We take a look at the fake meat labelling war.

The fake meat versus genuine meat debate continues after Woolworths and Coles began to sell plant-based meat substitutes in the store’s meat department.

The saga originated from Woolworths marketing a faux-mince product, made of primarily from vegetables and plants, alongside pork and beef mince.

Consumers had mixed reactions with Deputy PM, Michael McCormack and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud weighing in on the debate.

“Mince is mince, mince is meat. That’s my interpretation of what mince is,” Mr McCormack said.

“The labelling and positioning of all food products should accurately reflect what’s in the packet,” Mr Littleproud told the ABC.

labelling and positioning of all food products should accurately reflect what’s in the packet

Product labelling is a prideful topic when associated with Australian food markets with strict origin of country labelling laws coming in to effect on the 1st July 2018.

However according to the President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Fiona Simson, we have dropped the ball on the clarity of product labelling in regards to fake meats in supermarkets.

“We need to make decisions around what is meat, what is milk, what we classify them as and how that should appear on a product label.

“We need to work out what the government’s role is in this to make sure we can pursue a labelling regime that is beneficial to consumers and producers,” Ms Simson said.

Consumer purchasing meat in supermarket

As much as the meat industry might not like it, Australians are eating less meat. A Roy Morgan 2016 research indicated that 2.1 million Australians have a diet that is all, or almost all, vegetarian.

With more than 11% of the Australian population classifying themselves as vegetarian, almost 53.4% agree they’re consciously eating less red meat.

The meat industry is primarily concerned with the development of synthetic or lab-grown meats, which originated from an American company called Memphis Meats and now Australian scientists are starting to try a slice of the “clean meats” pie.

Producing lab-grown meats involves harvesting the stem cells of an animal and growing it in a lab environment, so vegetarians and vegans can eat slaughter-free meat, raising more potential product labelling issues.

Despite the aforementioned statistics, the meat industry have little to worry about with Australian expenditure of beef in 2017 being estimated at $8.5 billion and expenditure on lamb estimated at $2.3 billion.


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