​​Can manufacturers legally call plant-based products 'meat' or 'mince'?

A plant-based vegan burger.
A plant-based vegan burger. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

 Can food manufacturers legally call plant-based products "meat" or "mince"? A. Farmer

Etymologically speaking, the word "meat" comes from Old English mete, which simply means food. So sweetmeat still evokes that original sense as a sweet food such as fruit-based delicacy. "Mince" comes from the Old French mincier meaning to chop finely. Every Christmas we chop up dried fruit to make fruit mince. I don't think anyone in their right mind is going to confuse the plant-based and animal-based products because the manufacturers of the vegetarian versions go out of their way to promote them as animal flesh-free. At present there is no law that defines these food terms in relation to labelling other than those that prevent misleading conduct. Recently the Deputy Prime Minister (and National Party leader) Michael McCormack said, in relation to Funky Fields' Minced product, "Mince is mince, mince is meat," and urged anyone confused by the product to contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. That the label says "100% Plant Based" in whopping great letters probably makes things clear. The National Farmers' Federation, which is kicking up a stink about fake milk and meat, seems to have forgotten that the plants that go into those vego foods are mainly grown by the Australian farmers they represent.

So the supermarkets are going plastic-free! That's great news! B. Miller

Herbs add extra flavour to your omelette.
Herbs add extra flavour to your omelette. Photo: Shutterstock

I can hear dolphins clapping around the coast as the rest of Australia's supermarkets stop offering single-use plastic bags from July 1. Pouring a bucket of icy sterilised water on this enviroparty are those germophobes of the food world, the Food Safety Information Council, which could find the threat of disease-carrying bacteria in a bottle of Dettol. They advise bringing your own shopping bags but packing meat and poultry separately; checking and washing your bags regularly and buying a cooler bag to carry home perishable foods on hot days. They recommend not to store the bags in the car, where they could get hot and breed bacteria. They have also noticed that supermarkets are a hotbed of filth so they recommend shoppers choose a clean trolley or basket. "Never put fresh fruit and vegetables that won't be peeled or cooked before eating directly into the trolley; put them in a clean bag."

How do you make the fluffy omelettes that one is served in good hotels? L. Coombes

Take three eggs and separate them, the whites in a metal bowl and the yolks in a smaller bowl. Using a fork, blend 15 grams of small cubes of cold butter into the yolks and season. Set aside. Slowly whisk the whites and when they start to thicken, increase your speed lifting the whisk through the eggs to fold as much air as you can into the whites. When they hold firm peaks, ever so gently fold the yolks into the whites with a spatula. Pour this mixture into a frying pan in which some butter has been melted over medium heat. Sprinkle finely chopped herbs and a little grated cheese into the pan if you want to add a little more flavour. When the bottom of the mixture has browned slightly (2-3 minutes), fold the omelette in half and continue to cook until the egg has just set. Serve immediately on a warmed plate.

Brain Food by Richard Cornish.
Brain Food by Richard Cornish. 

Send your vexing culinary conundrums to brainfood@richardcornish.com.au or tweet to @Realbrainfood.

Brain Food by Richard Cornish is out now from MUP (RRP $19.99, eBook $11.99).