At the beginning of April, MEPs in the agriculture committee of the European Parliament voted to reaffirm the importance of nomenclature.
Once again, to the Shakespearean question “What’s in a name?”, MEPs confirm that there is indeed plenty: protecting that foods on the market can be called not only provides accurate information to consumers and helps them make informed choices, but also protects Europe’s gastronomic culture.
In particular, April 1, MEPs dealt with vegan and vegetarian food, an issue currently in vogue, and voted to enshrine into law that only meat products can use words such as “steak,” “sausage,” “escalope,” “burger” and “hamburger”. In a move that could protect livestock farming, agriculture lawmakers voted to push for these definitions in upcoming negotiations with the European Commission and EU governments on reforming the bloc’s €59-billion-a-year farming policy.
“We felt that steak should be kept as real steak,” said French Socialist MEP Éric Andrieu, Parliament’s lead on the file, at a press conference Monday. “The idea isn’t to oppose vegetarian products – he continues in an interview on Politico – or even to help the meat industry, but simply to reinforce the principle that the information provided to consumers should be as clear as possible”.
This is not the first time that the European Union has made a decision on the nomenclature of products of plant origin. As early as 2017, the European Court of Justice reaffirmed, in the dairy sector, a ban on marketing plant products with names that recall milk or its derivatives, recalling an approach that the EU has adopted since 2007.
In effect, today, it is not easy for a consumer to move through the jungle of the food sector. Despite calls to read the label before purchasing, there are unfortunately too few authentic elements on the label with genuine depth that could allow for informed choices. Frequently, the most authentic products are those that are penalized: their labels are legal but inadequate, and do not do justice to the extraordinary cheeses, sweets, cured meats and genuine artisanal foods to which they are applied.
To help consumers, Slow Food proposes the Narrative Label, a small revolution in the world of communication of food products, and supports the European Citizens’ Initiative Eat ORIGINal! Unmask Your food calling on the European Commission to impose mandatory declarations of origin for all food products to prevent frauds, protect public health and guarantee consumers’ right to information.
Sign the ECI here
Find out more about Narrative Label here