The names “ham”, “ham”, “smoked meat” and “sausage” will only be able to be used for products of animal origin – according to the draft regulation of the Minister of Agriculture, which was submitted for public consultations. Producers of plant substitutes for meat food expressed their opposition to the act. They point to research that shows that 96 percent of consumers have never mistakenly purchased a plant-based product instead of meat.
The proposed regulations will allow for the protection of terms commonly used to describe meat products. These terms were defined in the Polish Standards, mandatory in Poland until Poland joined the EU. Consumers associate these terms with meat products, emphasize the authors of the project.
Legal protection for meat
As explained, the Ministry of Agriculture received applications to introduce terms defining products made from meat by introducing legal protection of these terms to prevent abuses leading to misleading consumers, including: these were applications from eight agricultural organizations – #BreedersRazem and the Association of Butchers and Meats of the Republic of Poland.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the proposed labeling rules will contribute to ensuring the protection of consumers’ interests, giving them the opportunity to make conscious choices about the food they consume, as well as protecting the market of meat products.
Only products produced from the thighs of farmed ungulates, poultry, lagomorphs, wild animals kept on farms or game animals, or from poultry breasts may be labeled as ham.
However, only products made from animal meat, including cured, uncured, salted or unsalted meat, with the possible addition of fat, offal, spices or complementary raw materials, including non-meat raw materials, may be labeled with the name cold meat, smoked meat and sausage.
The introduction of the provision will allow official food control units to clearly assess the commercial quality of the product, including its labeling.
The regulation will be notified to the European Commission.
Opposition from producers of plant substitutes
Producers of plant substitutes for meat products expressed their opposition to the act.
“Seeking to change the legislation regarding the naming of plant-based meat alternatives without the possibility of consultation and involvement of key entities indicates that the project presented by the ‘two-week’ Ministry of Agriculture has an unclear purpose, certainly far from protecting the interests of consumers,” says Maciej Otrębski, strategic partnerships manager at GłosnieJemy, co-founder of the Polish Association of Plant Food Producers.
“Poles have no difficulty in choosing between plant-based and meat-based kabanos, just as they have no problem distinguishing between potato fries and chicken fries, which is confirmed by a study commissioned by the research company Panel Ariadna by PlantnieJemy in 2022 on a group representative of the Polish population. Its results indicate that 96 percent of consumers have not mistakenly bought a plant product instead of meat,” Otrębski emphasizes.
He adds that “Poles are in favor of supporting changes in the food system.” “The results of a survey conducted in August this year by Biostat indicate that 52 percent of respondents would support government actions aimed at increasing investment in the production of meat and dairy substitutes based on plant protein sources. The government should take actions enabling the development of innovative segments of the economy, and not Unfortunately, it’s quite clumsy to try to stop it,” says Otrębski. Raphael Czech, co-founder of Bezmięsny and co-founder of the Polish Association of Plant Food Producers, emphasizes that “the nomenclature referring to products of animal origin for plant products, in addition to being a step towards a sustainable food future, gives consumers a clear point of reference.” “Such terms not only make it easier for consumers to choose often healthier options, but also contribute to the popularization of plant alternatives among a wide group of recipients. Plant-based meat alternatives are an excellent addition to the food shelf, which attracts more and more consumers every year,” we read in Czech’s comment. “It is also worth mentioning that the plant protein alternatives industry contributes to new jobs and the development of innovation in Poland, and innovations are an important element of the growth of modern economies. The proposal of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to ban the use of this type of names is a direct brake on the development of innovation in food industry in Poland.” – judges.
“The question must be answered whether the interest of the Ministry is to strive to build competitive advantages of our producers in the international arena or to suppress them from within with this type of bans. Consumers have long expressed their opinions on this matter. Plant products referring to meat names do not introduce them at any stage misleading, which is confirmed by the results of a study commissioned by PlantnieJemy in 2022,” emphasizes Rafał Czech.
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