“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” is an admonition used by many parents when teaching their children not to lie. In this case, there is no deception, but there is certainly a tangled web when calling a product something it is not.
The manufacturers of various “milk” products have found that out when the dairy industry challenged their right to use the word “milk” in non-dairy drinks such as almond milk, coconut milk, etc.
The “fake-meat” industry is now experiencing the same push-back.
“The biggest problem for plant-based meat companies might be the very thing that defines them. For years, they’ve worked to create products that look, feel, and taste just like conventional meat – but now that they’re finding success in the market, they stare down the very real possibility they won’t be able to use the word ‘meat’ on their product packaging at all,” said an article in Quartz.
There is a growing movement led by the meat industry to prevent companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods from using the word “meat” or misrepresenting a product as meat at all.
The opposition has taken its fight to statehouses around the country. According to the Quartz article, legislation has passed in Missouri, Arkansas and elsewhere to curb companies from using the term “meat” in non-meat products.
“Enough states have now adopted such measures that Beyond Meat sees the movement as a legitimate threat to how it does business,” the article noted.
It is particularly interesting that Missouri passed legislation in view of the April 1 unveiling of the Impossible Burger at St. Louis area Burger King restaurants. Does the word “burger” imply a product made with meat? If so, will Burger King have to rename their newest addition to the menu the Impossible not-burger? So many questions.
In what appears to be verbal prestidigitation, Patrick Brown, the CEO of Impossible Foods, has made the case that their plant-based products are, in fact, meat. His reasoning is that meat is less about how the product is produced and more about the experiences people have when eating it (taste, texture, etc.).
“What consumers value about meat has nothing to do with how it’s made,” Brown told Quartz last year. “I mean, animals have just been the technology we have used up until now to produce meat, which is a food that is defined by its flavor profile, its sensory profile, its nutrition, utility, and stuff like that.”
Apparently, the United States is not alone in the movement to stop companies from falsely using meat to describe their fake meat products. Government officials in the European Union are also moving to stop the false advertising.