Plant-based meat sales grew by 31% between 2017 & 2019 in the USA. In striking contrast and sales of traditional meat grew by 5%. Traditional meat industries are paying attention. Unsurprisingly, the labelling of plant-based meat food products is a tension source. The traditionalists argue that calling plant-based meat products or other meat-related terms is misguiding to customers. They say that customers are experts in eating animal meat when they buy such products. India has not yet witnessed any controversy around plant-based meat products. In 2020, the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India or FSSAI published a draft notification which would effectively outlaw “milk” and related terms for plant-based dairy alternatives like soy and almond milk, amongst others. This move had strong backing from the dairy industry. We understand that the FSSAI is known for a stakeholder meeting to discuss the proposal and suggestions. A traditional dairy industry with pan-India voiced strong resistance to plant-based industries using the term “milk” for their food products. Another way was pushback from start-ups in the alternate protein sector and animal rights groups. In this blog, we explain the state of Regulations for the Labelling of Plant-Based Meat Products.
How the labelling of Plant-Based Meat Products differs Around the World?
Labelling of Products has been the important bottleneck for the plant-based meat company as manufacturers worldwide strive to ensure that their food products are easily identifiable & appealing to customers; countries are wrangling over exactly how those products can be described. Here is how product labelling requirements differ by region:
|In April 2019, the EU Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture & Rural Development sought to restrict the use of meat descriptors like burger, steak, & sausage to apply only to products derived from animals and not from plants. According to supporters of this proposal, the change is essential to ensure customers have access to clear details.
|Meat analogue regulations are still in their early stages in Japan. The regulatory liability of meat analogue is not yet assigned to any single department; however, a single regulatory agency could be created in future.
|In September 2019, the first industry-standard & regulation symposium on meat alternatives was held through the China Plant-Based Foods Alliance or CPBFA in Beijing. During the gathering, an agreeable agreement was reached that the “meat alternative company will enter a stage of rapid growth & create a considerable impetus to agricultural and the general food company.”
|Currently, there are no standard rules & regulations for plant-based meat products in India. Plant-based meat products like burgers & sausages are new to the Indian food market, with companies like Good Dot supplying such products. Many plant-based meat players will likely enter the Indian market shortly, and government bodies shall have to set a standard set of rules & regulations.
Important Regulations for Labelling of Plant-Based Meat Products
The following are seven priorities for naming, marketing & labelling of plant-based meat products alternatives that are in the best interest of customers:
- Establish a definition for the variety of Plant-based meat product alternatives that unite all stakeholders.
- Ensure brand names are not deceptive
- Require that labels on PBMAs are standardized & clarify the protein source
- Regulate health or nutrition claims for PBMAs
- Ensure social media, website, and advertising content for PBMAs conform to the product label.
- Introduce the nutritional composition of the PBMAs in FDA norms & Guidance
- Educate customers about the nutritional composition of plant-based protein alternatives.
Recommendations by FSSAI for Labelling of Plant-Based Meat Products
The FSSAI has to come up with specific guidelines for labelling of plant-based meat products & allow the existing naming conventions followed through the company to continue:
- The FSSAI can use of qualifiers in the names of plant-based products; the use of qualifiers or ingredient names helps customers identify the product’s true nature.
- The FSSAI could sensitize and educate customers to familiarize them with plant-based meat products.
- The FSSAI should interact with stakeholders while deciding upon guidelines and norms for plant-based meat products; the task force can invite proposals or suggestions from the stakeholders for a regulatory framework for plant-based meat products.
Many start-ups such as Urban Platter, Good Dot, Blue Tribe Foods, Vezelay and others, as well as larger existing players, are manufacturing and selling plant-based meat or dairy product in India. However, the food products are subject to omnibus labelling requirements that all food products must comply with.