France to ban use of ‘meaty language’ for vegetarian foods

It has been revealed by the government of France that it is working on a new law that will outlaw the use of “meaty” terminology such as “steak,” “grill,” and “spare ribs” when referring to foods that are vegetarian or derived from plants. Examples of this vocabulary include “steak,” “grill,” and “spare ribs.”

The Canadian Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, issued a statement on Monday in which he referred to the organization’s most recent decree as “an issue of transparency and honesty responding to the legitimate expectations of consumers and producers.”


Farmers and businesses involved in the supply chain for meat in France have maintained for a long time that language such as “plant-based burger” and “vegan sausage” misleads customers and should be avoided as much as possible. This argument dates back to the 1980s.


On the other hand, the highest administrative court in the country invalidated a decision from 2022 that safeguarded such expressions. The decree was intended to safeguard them.

Even though this court, the council of state, has asked for guidance from European court of justice (ECJ) before pronouncing its final decision, the agriculture ministry claims that it has already drafted a new language order taking into consideration the concerns made by the judges. This is despite the fact that the council of state has requested guidance from the ECJ before rendering its final ruling.


The new proposal for a legislation makes it illegal to refer to protein-based goods using a list of 21 terms commonly associated with meat. These titles include “steak,” “escalope,” “spare ribs,” and “ham,” in addition to “butcher.” The ban is only enforced against products that are produced and sold within the borders of France.


However, over 120 names that are typically associated with meat, such as “cooked ham,” “poultry,” “sausage,” or “bacon,” will still be allowed as long as the items do not exceed a defined amount of plant proteins, with percentages ranging from 0.5% to 6%. Examples of these names include “cooked ham,” “poultry,” “sausage,” or “bacon.” The ingredient list of the product contains this information regarding the percentages of plant-based proteins.


The directive has been submitted to the European Commission so that it can be evaluated in light of the numerous requirements imposed by the Commission with respect to the labeling of foods.


According to Guillaume Hannotin, a lawyer for the organization Proteines France, which represents producers of vegan and vegetarian alternatives, the term “plant-based steak” has been in use for more than 40 years. Proteines France is an organization that represents manufacturers of vegan and vegetarian alternatives.


According to him, France’s new order continues to contradict EU legislation on labeling for products that, in contrast to milk, do not have a particular legal definition and can be referred to by names that are in general usage. He made this claim by stating that France’s new order violates EU rules on labeling for products.


After the order has been issued, there will be a waiting period of three months before it goes into effect, giving companies ample opportunity to make necessary modifications to their labeling. In addition, it permits manufacturers to sell any product stocks that had been labelled previous to the law’s entry into force, as long as they do so no later than one year after the law’s publication. This provision applies only if the sale occurs no later than one year following the publication of the law.



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