Protecting reputation of our milk and meat

Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie
Minister for Agriculture

Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie said the National Party would push for accurate labelling of food and drink products so that mums and dads could be confident about what they’re buying at the checkout.

“No self-respecting vegetarian would want to rock along to a barbeque to find that their vege-burger actually contained meat. Just as meat eaters don’t want to find their meat patties are actually made from chickpeas and tofu,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Accurate labelling isn’t about picking beef over soy beans or cow’s milk over an almond protein drink. There’s room for both.

“But, one thing’s for sure – they’re not the same thing.

“Milk and meat are single ingredient products-no letters, no numbers, no additives. One hundred percent what’s on the label-wholesome, natural and unadulterated.

“Whereas soy milk, for example, routinely includes a percentage of soy-under 20 per cent, along with added sugar, added oil, added minerals, added salt and added vitamins.

“These products are trading off the health and nutritional benefits milk and milk products have.

“We’re not the only ones concerned. Since 2013 the European Union has designated that ‘milk’, ‘cheese’ and ‘butter’ can only be used in products derived from animal milk. In 2018 France outlawed products that predominantly use non-animal ingredients from labelling them as ‘vegetable steak’ and ‘soy sausages’.

“In the United States the Food and Drug Administration has signalled its intent to enforce existing regulations that define milk as an animal product because of concerns that claims on plant-based products could lead consumers to believe those products have the same attributes as dairy.

“In August 2018 the US state of Missouri banned plant-based products and cultured-meat from using the word meat. States including Nebraska, Wyoming, Tennessee and Virginia are considering following this lead.

“Our dairy and cattle farmers invest heavily in meeting consumer demands and in promoting their products as safe, natural, nutritious and delicious. I’m all for growers of non-meat protein doing the same – in an upfront way for consumers.

“But at the moment, there’s ambiguity and, I would suggest, deliberate attempts by some of these plant-based protein manufacturers to trade on the good, honest work of our meat producers or our milk producers.

“I’ll be working with my colleagues to make sure this issue is on the agenda for the next meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation that I will attend.”

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