A collection of animal welfare groups have thrown their support behind a Seattle-based vegan “meat” products company in a battle against what they call “archaic” Canadian labelling laws. And, what they say is an absurd requirement for the food maker to test its fake meat on actual live animals.
Field Roast Grain Meat Company has been forced to suspend shipments of its grain-based meat-free products, which include burgers, roasts and deli slices, because the labels don’t say “simulated meat products.” The company, which was founded in 1997 and began selling its products in Canada last year, argues that its products aren’t meant to simulate any type of animal meat.
On Oct. 6, the Animal Alliance of Canada, Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, Animal Justice Canada Legislative Fund, Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals, Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals, Humane Society International/Canada, Mercy for Animals Canada, Montreal SPCA, and Vancouver Humane Society called for reform to “out-of-date” regulations.
“The company is the target of an archaic and unnecessary labelling provision and was forced to stop shipping its products to Canada effective immediately,” the animal welfare coalition wrote in a letter the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the federal health minister.
“Canadians are increasingly choosing to replace animal protein in their diets with healthy vegetarian protein alternatives as an ethical, environmental or health conscious personal choice… These products have not been recalled; Health Canada can therefore have no doubts as to their safety.”
Field Roast is also appealing to consumers for support. In a letter posted on the company’s blog, the company said Canadian rules require adding chemical supplements to mimic the nutritional profile of animal meats. It also says it would have to embark on a “protein efficiency ratio study” using live animals to measure protein relative to animal meats.
“As a company, we believe there is a fundamental bias that exists in these regulations; one that holds animal proteins as the standard of all meats. Therefore, it is not a simple fix,” the company wrote.
Chef David Lee, the owner of Field Roast who recently took in Toronto’s Vegetarian Food Festival, said his company has the support of consumers.
“We are determined to find a resolution to ensure that our products are back on shelves as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.
In a statement, the CFIA told CBC that Field Roast products have several Canadian labelling violations.
“Should they wish to continue exporting their products into Canada, their product labels need to be amended to meet Canadian regulations. It is the responsibility of industry to demonstrate that their products meet the criteria,” the agency told CBC.