The Dutch food and product safety board has told a company making meat replacements that it must change the misleading names of a large number of its products, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday.
The Vegetarische Slager (vegetarian butcher) has been told that items such as Visvrije tonyn (fish-free tuna), kipstuckjes (chicken nuggets) and gerookte speckjes (smoked bacon bits) are confusing to customers and contravene the law.
The company has been given until March next year to change the names of its products or face a fine.
The company, which has already changed the spelling of its products – using tonyn rather than tonijn, for example – says the order is politically motivated. It claims other meat replacement firms, such as Vivera and Good Bite, have not been ordered to make changes.
The Vegetarische Slager’s co-founder Niko Koffeman is also a senator for the pro-animal PvdD, while company director Jaap Kortweg is the partner of PvdD leader Marianne Thieme.
In January this year, two MPs from the right-wing Liberal VVD adopted a call by Germany’s agriculture minister to stop calling meat replacements ‘vegetarian’ schnitzels or hamburgers.
Health minister Edith Schippers said at the time she was not in favour of stopping vegetarian products using meat-related names.
A spokesman for the NVWA told the Volkskrant the warning about the name change is purely administrative. ‘We have had a report, have established the law is being broken and have sent a warning,’ the spokesman said.
Koffeman said that the company will appeal if it does get a fine next year.
The company was launched in 2010 with a shop in central Amsterdam. Its products are now sold in more than 3,000 stores across 14 countries.
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