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Meat the Law is a series of events focused around sustainability in the meat industry. Important challenges in this industry remain: livestock is the single biggest contributor to global food emissions. At the same time, disruptive technologies have sought to further sustainability in the field. For example, various mock meats that have gained traction as good investments for the inevitable sustainability-focused future – Beyond Meat stock surged 119% in the last year. The series is intended to enable engagement with diverse viewpoints from within and outside the domain of private law as a holistic approach to understanding the solutions and problems of the 21st century challenges: befitting for the overarching goal of the Amsterdam Centre for Transformative private law.

Event details of ACT Meat the Law Series III - 'Plant-based' Accurate Information and Sustainable Lifestyles
Date 31 May 2021
Time 15:30 -17:00
Organised by Laura Burgers , Candida Leone
photo: Tiago Fioreze, soybean plantation in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

The Event

Does vegan meat even exist? Will consumers confuse soy ‘milk’ with dairy? Labelling meat & dairy products as well as their plant-base alternatives proves to be a hot topic this year. Soy and oat drinks, plant-based meat replacements and vegan cheeses are becoming ever more popular – thanks to improving recipes and a growing consumer awareness about animal welfare and climatic impacts of the meat and dairy industry. The latter industry aims to strike back, proposing regulatory changes to limit the use of terms like ‘milk’ on packaging of plant-based drinks. This, in turn, invites advertisement stunts of brands like Oatly (‘Wow, no cow!’).

To what extent can food and agricultural laws regulating consumer information  impact sustainable consumer behavior? Will labelling and advertisement regulations ‘save’ the meat & dairy industry from its plant-based competitors? Are these debates unique to the EU? What interests and what actors are leading in standardization of labelling?

In this third edition of the Meat the Law Series, dr. Marie José Plana Casado outlines the EU’s broad legal and policy framework regulating consumer information of plant-based alternatives, and reflects over how the USA laws and courts are approaching the same phenomenon.. Subsequently, Simone Pelkmans, General Legal Counsel Unilever Benelux, discusses her experiences within Unilever: how does Unilever – owner of both meat and dairy brands as well as of brands of plant-based alternatives – regard the labelling debate? Finally, Claire Milne, independent consultant, discusses her experience negotiating food labelling standards on behalf of the British Standards Institute’s Consumer and Public Interest Network (BSI/CPIN), a consumer interest group specifically engaging in the area of standardization.

This online event is hosted by dr. Candida Leone and dr. Laura Burgers, both members of the Amsterdam Centre for Transformative Private Law. It is open to everyone interest and free of charge. Please register using the link found below.


About the Speakers

Dr Maria José Plana Casado is Assistant Professor in the LAW group at Wageningen University (WUR, the Netherlands) and was previously a Post-doctoral Researcher at the Bioethics & Law Observatory (OBD) of the University of Barcelona (UB, Spain). Her research revolves around Food, Drugs and Biotechnology legislation. Using a holistic approach, her research encompasses relevant underlying issues such as digital technologies (i.e. e-commerce and big data), ethics in public procurement (i.e. sustainability in school lunch programs), and food waste and taxation.

Claire Milne is a long-time telecommunication professional and independent consultant. In 2015 she was awarded an MBE for services to the telecommunications sector. In 2020, she took part on behalf of consumer interest group BSI/CPIN in the negotiations for the PAS 224:2020 norm, defining 100% plant-based foods. Since 2003 Claire has been a Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics, department of Media and Communications.

Simone Pelkmans works as General Legal Counsel for Unilever Benelux since 2016. She studied law in Groningen and Spanish in Salamanca. In 1995, she started her career at the Dutch law firm NautaDutilh where she worked for a little over four years in the firm’s IP and corporate law department. From 2008 onwards, she worked for Unilever on Marketing Law & Food Law, and in 2013 she became responsible for a part of Unilever’s Global and European Foods Categories (Margarine, Dressings & Plant Based Nutrition).



15:30  Opening, dr. Candida Leone and dr. Laura Burgers
15:35  Dr. Marie José Plana Casado Labelling for plant-based alternatives: updating consumer information law in the context of the (New) Green Deal
15:50  Claire Milne, independent consultant, Labelling plant-based food – consumer perspectives
16:05  Simone Pelkmans, General Legal Counsel Unilever Benelux How Unilever looks at the labelling debate as owner of both meat products and their plant-based alternatives
16:15  Plenary Discussion
17:00 End