RED meat industry leaders and senators have vowed to ensure recommendations for new laws to prevent vegan food being labeled beef are implemented.
The industry's umbrella body the Red Meat Advisory Council will be seeking a commitment from both major political parties to see the recommendations through and the chair of the senate inquiry which investigated the issue, Susan McDonald, has vowed to start 'knocking on minister's doors' immediately.
Government response to the recommendations from the senate inquiry into the use of animal descriptors on plant-based proteins likely won't come before an election.
However, the fact there was appetite for change from both the government and opposition does augur well for implementation of what will be quite a tougher stance, regardless of election outcome.
The key recommendation from the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport legislation Committee Inquiry into meat definitions was for new mandatory regulation with the view to forbidding the use of words like beef and chicken, and livestock imagery, on products which contain no animal products.
New alternative protein products, often referred to as 'fake meat', labeled as the real deal with 'plant-based' in smaller text, have been a contentious issue for those in the red meat industry.
This led to the senate inquiry, which attracted dozens of written submissions and heard from scores of people who make their livelihood from both cattle and sheep and plant-based protein.
RMAC chief executive officer Alastair James said there was no denying the senate inquiry recommendations were a great outcome for Australian consumers and the red meat and livestock sector and it was now critically important to make them count.
"The recommendations are the first major step on the path of delivering truth in labeling by strengthening Australia's regulatory and enforcement framework to stop the practice of denigrating meat products through misleading advertising," he said.
"The red meat and livestock industry's 75,000 businesses and 445,000 employees supporting 24 million domestic consumers are depending on it."
The role of senate inquiries is to do a deep dive into complicated issues and in this case, the recommendations span at least three government ministers - agriculture, health and treasury - who will now need to respond.
If support is there for new laws, legislation may be drafted, which would then go through cabinet, back to a review committee and then to the senate
Ministers may also take a regulatory approach which would progress faster.
Senator McDonald said she would now be knocking on the doors of ministers to progress the recommendations.
With government endorsement, the process could be completed in as little as six months, she said.
"There was consensus between both government and opposition for the recommendations, a sign this is the common sense approach and will therefore progress smoothly," she said.
"However, we can now expect some food manufacturers will continue to lobby against change so our work doesn't end here."
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