Article by: Hari Yellina
Senators and red meat industry officials have committed to seeing that recommendations for new rules to ban vegan food from being branded as beef are enacted. The Red Meat Advisory Council, the industry’s umbrella organisation, will seek commitments out of both leading parties to see the suggestions through, and Susan McDonald, the chair of the Senate inquiry that investigated the issue, has promised to begin ‘knocking on ministers’ doors as soon as possible. The government’s answer to the Senate inquiry’s recommendations on the use of animal descriptors on plant-based proteins is unlikely to occur before the election.
However, regardless of election results, the fact that both the administration and opposition were eager for change stands well for the adoption of a harder attitude. The Senate investigation recommendations, according to RMAC chief executive officer Alastair James, were a positive conclusion for Australian consumers and the red meat and livestock business, and it was now crucial to make them matter. “The suggestions are the first important step toward truth in labelling by enhancing Australia’s regulatory and enforcement framework to halt the practice of demonising meat products through false advertising,” he said. It supports 75,000 firms and 445,000 employees in the red meat and livestock industry, which in turn support 24 million domestic customers.
The purpose of senate inquiry is to delve deeply into complex matters, and the suggestions in this case cover at least three government ministers – agricultural, health, and treasury – who will now have to reply. If there is enough support for new laws, legislation might be written, which would then proceed through cabinet, a review committee, and finally the Senate. Ministers might also take a regulatory approach, which would move things much more quickly. Senator McDonald stated that she will now be knocking on ministers’ doors to advance the recommendations. She claims that with government approval, the process may be finished in as little as six months. “Both the government and the opposition agreed on the proposals, indicating that this is a common sense approach that will proceed smoothly,” she said. “However, we can now anticipate that some food makers will continue to campaign against reform, so our effort will continue.”