OTTAWA — Plant-based proteins are here to stay but meat producers want them labelled more clearly.
“It is a shock that they are allowed to use ‘meat’ in any sort of advertisement, whether it says alternative or plant-based meat,” said beef producer Dan Darling of Ontario during the CCA annual meeting in Ottawa March 11-13.
He urged the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association to form a policy to ask the federal government to monitor and enforce existing food labelling laws.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has a clear definition of meat and it is responsible for enforcing the law when products are mislabelled.
There is not enough manpower to monitor labels unless someone complains, said Jennifer Babcock at the CCA food policy committee meeting.
Campaigns are being launched to promote beef as a nutritional food, as well as provide positive messages.
“We have two consumer campaigns that are underway right now to counter the negative messaging we have been seeing in the press and disparaging comments that come out with plant-based product launches,” she said.
In addition, there is a CCA team working with the Canadian Pork Council and Canadian Meat Council on a draft policy on the labelling of alternative products.
“There is room for everything on the plate. In my opinion I don’t think these products are taking away from our existing customer. I don’t think a meat eater is looking for a replacement. It is the plant guys who want to be meat,” said Kim O’Neil of the meat council. Some members of the council representing meat processors also run divisions manufacturing alternative products, she said.
Nathan Phinney of New Brunswick said information is needed to educate future generations about the benefits of animal protein.
“The generation now might be fine but the ones up and coming are starting to question it and unless you can give them the proper information, I think our industry is at risk,” he said.
“Freedom of choice is important but we can be swayed because of slandered marketing. We have to be able to appropriately describe the benefits to make the choice. I think our voice is not being heard,” he said.
The CCA has developed a fact sheet to register food product complaints.
Complaints may be made to the CFIA at inspection.gc.ca under the contact us page or by telephone at 800-442-2342.