A Senate inquiry has recommended a review of food labelling regulations. The inquiry, which generated interest from farmers, livestock groups, plant-based food companies and vegetarian groups, has been investigating the labelling of non-animal proteins in the meat and dairy sector.
The final report, which was handed down on Thursday, made nine recommendations, including establishing a regulatory framework for labelling plant-based protein products.
It also recommended that a national standard be developed to restrict "meat category brands" to animal protein products.
"We are advising that a current review being undertaken of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act also include reversing its allowance of plant proteins and non-dairy milk to use animal descriptors," Senator McDonald said in a statement.
"We also recommend that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission act on concerns plant proteins are placed too close to animal proteins in stores."
Senator McDonald said the report also recommended supporting the emerging plant-protein industry.
"Australian pulse and veggie farmers can tap into the plant-protein market, so it makes no sense for people to frame this inquiry as somehow wanting to cripple that industry or attack vegans and vegetarians.
"All we're suggesting is that, like margarine makers did by choosing a name that didn't contain butter, plant protein marketers come up with ways to promote their products without trading on animal names and imagery.
"The same goes for cultured meat. When that eventually hits the market, it needs to be clearly discernible from meat grown in a paddock, so we are recommending the government get involved now in regulating meat definitions."
Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) independent chair John McKillop welcomed the report, saying the recommendations would help "restore truth in labelling".
"By concluding that the current regulatory framework for the labelling of plant-based protein products is inadequate and decisive action is needed, the committee supports the protection of consumers, as well as the brand and reputation of traditional animal proteins like beef, lamb and goat," he said.
"The recommendations vindicate industry's long-held view that minimum regulated standards are required to prohibit plant-protein product manufacturers from referencing traditional animal proteins like beef, lamb and goat, and using livestock images on plant-protein packaging or marketing materials."