Beyond Meat, an American veggie burger company, has caught the attention of Canadian beef producers. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Beyond Meat burger not a threat for beef producers, say central Alberta ranchers

Referring to vegan or vegetarian alternative proteins as “meat” isn’t a concern, say two central Alberta ranchers.

Beyond Meat, an American veggie burger company, has caught the attention of Canadian beef producers. The Quebec Cattle Producers Federation recently launched a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about the company advertising its product as “plant-based meat,” CBC reports.

Kirsty Twidale, owner of Twidale Farm and Ranch in Elnora, east of Innisfail, said she isn’t concerned about the word “meat” being on the label.

“It doesn’t bother me at all. I think anybody who buys one of those knows that it’s not meat. I don’t feel like it’s misleading, but I know others could feel that way,” she said.

Twidale said she doesn’t consider a product like the Beyond Meat burger to be a threat.

“People would choose a (Beyond Meat burger) because they don’t want to eat meat. It’s not like they’re going to decide to not eat meat because there’s a non-meat option. You either want it or you don’t,” she said.

Blake Hall, owner of Prairie Gold Pastured Meats in Red Deer County, echoed Twidale’s sentiments.

“I know the various nut milks have to call it ‘beverage.’ But I think with Beyond Meat, it’s implicit in the name that it’s not meat, so I don’t really know if there are grounds to make them take ‘meat’ off the label. It doesn’t bother me,” he said.

Hall said the burger doesn’t taste the same as beef.

“People are more informed than ever about their food choices, where it’s coming from and what’s going in it. That’s what’s driving the Beyond Meat burger,” he said.

Conventional beef production is “losing social license domestically,” Hall added.

“People are losing trust in our conventional beef supply,” he said.

“We’re trying to … provide a different beef product that people feel good about. It’s about addressing people’s concerns with climate change, animal welfare, the water cycle, nutrition. Those are the things I’m finding people care about.”

On May 16, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association released a statement on “alternative proteins.”

The effort to stop food producers from labelling vegetarian-based products as meat in Canada is part of an international movement toward achieving a common nomenclature for meat derived from animal-based proteins, the statement said.

“The drive for improved clarity and consistency for consumers in labelling alternative protein products started in France and Italy, and regions in the United States have since acted to disallow plant-based meat items to be labelled and marketed as ‘meat’ or use terms such as ‘beef.’

“Canada has its own regulatory requirements in this area and they should be respected.”

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is working with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in the United States on the need for a consistent approach to the labelling of meat products, the release said.

“The CCA’s view is that for a product to be labelled or marketed as meat, it must meet the legal definition of ‘meat’ or ‘meat byproduct’ as defined in the Food and Drug Regulation.”

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