But it is nonetheless undoubtedly a step in the right direction, given that the UK’s unilateral decision to leave the program in 2020 had a disastrous effect on our scientific prowess.
Today, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly seeking a deal whereby we could return immigrants arriving on our shores via unorthodox routes back to the EU country from which they came; This actually resembles the Dublin Agreement, which the UK unilaterally abandoned as part of the Brexit process, leaving us with much less control over our borders.
Meanwhile, the UK government has decided to abandon its plans to introduce a UK-based quality mark and stick with the proven European CE marking, which we have unilaterally decided to abandon as part of the Brexit process.
Perhaps you’re spotting a trend here: we’re finally starting to realize that, in many ways, trying to go it alone makes life worse, not better, for our country.
Whatever your opinion on Brexit, one of the undeniable benefits of our time in the EU has been the clarity of food labeling.
I’m not talking about made-up stories about trying to ban outright bananas (an outright lie, by the way, peddled by those who would seek to discredit the EU for political purposes); I’m referring to the rules that help shoppers understand exactly what’s in the foods and drinks we consume.
European law is often born from the good ideas of different countries, and in this area, the French have often led the way.
The concept of protecting regional food product names, for example, was based on the French wine appellation system.
It is thanks to these regulations that Melton Mowbray pork pies, Stilton cheese and Fenland celery, to name but three, are protected from false intruders from elsewhere (and it is high time that Cromer crabs join this list).
Today comes news that a long-running battle raging in France is coming to a head, with the issuance of a French government decree banning foods that are largely based on non-animal products from being labeled as if they were meat.
Concretely, this means that oxymoronic terms such as “vegan ham”, “vegetable steak” and “vegan cheese” will be banned. France’s agriculture minister said the decree is “a matter of transparency and honesty, meeting the legitimate expectations of consumers and producers.”
Personally, I think it’s a good thing that manufacturers of “vegan bacon” or “vegetarian sausages” need to come up with a more truthful description of their product. You can imagine the commotion there would be if meat producers marketed “pork-based carrots.”
I’ve never understood why, if you made the decision not to want meat in your diet, you would choose to eat products that have the appearance, texture, and even something close to the taste of meat. .
This new decree does not prohibit these “false meats” at all; it simply aims to make their marketing more honest, removing any claims that they are in any way linked to the non-vegetarian foods they are trying to imitate.
Vegetarian campaigners are constantly – and often rightly – calling for clearer labeling of meat products; they cannot have it both ways and turn a blind eye to misleading or just plain wrong names given to meat-free products.
If we want to combat the cover-up and blatant dishonesty that is prevalent in our food industry, then these standards should apply to everyone.
Perhaps 30 years ago, when vegetarian food was largely relegated to the margins of supermarkets, food producers might have been asked to present their meat-free products in a way that could appeal to the almost exclusively carnivorous consumer.
But meat-free and plant-based diets have become part of the mainstream fad, so there’s no excuse for continuing this deception.
We all like to think we’re too smart to fall for sneaky marketing tricks, but the truth is that almost all of us are fooled to some extent.
The move across the Channel to increase the clarity and honesty of labeling is therefore to be welcomed – and something we should emulate here in the UK.