Last week the State of Missouri became the first legislature in the United States to pass a bill barring products not derived from harvested livestock from being marketed as meat.
It followed calls by the US Cattlemen’s Association earlier this year for the US Department of Agriculture to create an official definition for ‘meat’, to prevent the term from being used by artificial or lab created products.
And last month the trend continued in Europe when France banned the use of meat terms like ‘burger’ and ‘sausage’ on meat-free products.
In light of these recent developments, where does the Australian red meat industry stand on the issue?
Asked if Australia is considering a similar policy, Don Mackay, the independent chair of the Red Meat Advisory Council, said the subject is on the council’s agenda for its next meeting in June.
RMAC brings together the peak industry councils for all major red meat industry sectors including meat processors, retailers, grassfed and grainfed cattle producers, sheep producers and goat producers, and livestock exporters.
Asked for his own view on how Australia should respond Mr Mackay said he believed the US and French policy was on the right track.
“My instinct is like the French and the Americans we should be properly defining what meat is, and things that don’t fall in that definition should not be able to be called meat,” he said.
“These products will be produced, there is no problem with that, but I think from a consumer’s point of view consumers should know what they are getting .
“Given consumers are more and more looking for products, natural products produced from the land, they should know that is what they are buying or they’re not.
“For that to occur, I make the presumption here, but I presume it would require some legislative support for that. “
Victoria’s peak livestock body has also expressed a similar viewpoint.
Earlier this month the VFF Livestock Council passed a resolution calling on peak industry bodies and government to use legislation to reserve the term meat to protein products derived from the traditional and natural husbandry and slaughter of livestock.
“It’s unacceptable to mislead consumers by exploiting meat vocabulary when marketing a product that is not derived from traditional livestock production ” said Leonard Vallance, President of the Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group.
“Livestock farmers have a right to protect the sovereignty of meat production, a tradition that goes back to the dawn of time.”