Plant-Based Foods Association releases voluntary standards
The Plant Based Foods Association has released the first-of-its-kind standard for the voluntary labeling of plant-based meat alternatives.
“The goal of the voluntary standard is to promote consistency in labeling across the plant-based meat category, which grew by over 10% last year in grocery stores and is now featured in numerous chain restaurants across the country,” the San Francisco-based association, which represents more than 160 plant-based food companies, said in a news release.
“As consumers increasingly seek out plant-based meat options, the Plant Based Foods Association is leading the way by promoting a labeling standard that suggests clear labeling terms that consumers understand,” said Michele Simon, PBFA executive director.
PBFA’s meat alternative standards allow for references to the type of animal-meat (i.e. “meat, “chicken,” “hamburger,” etc.) and the form of the product (i.e. “nuggets,” “burger,” etc.) along with a qualifier that clearly indicates that the food is plant-based or vegetarian. These qualifiers include: “plant-based,” “vegan,” “meatless,” “meat-free,” “vegetarian,” “veggie,” “made from plants,” and other similar phrases.
Last year PBFA released voluntary labeling standards for plant-based milks, Simon noted.
The PBFA plant-based meat standards committee consisted of representatives from the following member companies: Beyond Meat, Hungry Planet, Lightlife and Field Roast, Morningstar Farms, No Evil Foods, Tofurky and Upton’s Naturals.
“In addition to the voluntary labeling standards, PBFA is also actively engaged in policy battles at the federal and state level to defend its members’ constitutional rights to common-sense labeling,” Simon noted. “This includes vigorously lobbying against ‘The Real MEAT Act,’ which seeks to unjustly codify the definition of ‘meat’ for labeling purposes and would require the use of ‘imitation’ on labels for plant-based meats. It also aims, in an unprecedented power grab, to expand jurisdiction of the labeling of plant-based foods to USDA if the FDA fails to act,” PBFA said.
Simon also noted that PBFA has also been fighting this year — in more than half the states on labeling restriction bills — against what the group considers attacks on free market competition by conventional meat and dairy “special interests.”
Recently, PBFA and its member company Upton’s Naturals, with legal representation from the Institute for Justice, won a significant legal fight in Mississippi. “As a result of our lawsuit, state officials agreed to revise regulations to allow plant-based food companies to continue using common meat terms alongside proper qualifiers, as PBFA’s labeling guidance suggests. First Amendment lawsuits are pending in Arkansas and Missouri on similar laws, and more lawsuits are likely to follow,” PBFA said.
In Wisconsin, the state Legislature is considering three legislative proposals that would limit how plant-based dairy and meat alternatives are labeled, and PBFA recently urged the Wisconsin Senate Agriculture Committee not to support the bills. ❖