After the meat lobby in France called for more “transparency”, names for veggie products that are typical of meat will soon be banned.
Paris – As of October 1, vegetarian meat substitutes in France may no longer be titled “steak” or “sausage”. “The use of terms traditionally associated with meat and fish to designate non-animal products will no longer be possible,” the relevant regulation states.
The meat processing industry had been calling for such a regulation for some time. The President of the Federation of French Cattle Breeders and Meat Processors, Jean-François Guilhard, welcomed it as “an essential step in favor of the transparency of information for consumers and the preservation of our products and our know-how”.
Ban on typical meat product names for substitute products could jeopardize transition to sustainable diets
Onav, an association of scientists and health professionals specializing in meat alternatives, criticized the measure as clearly serving to protect the economic interests of the meat industry. At the same time, in France, it jeopardizes the transition to more sustainable and healthier plant-based alternatives to meat, the production of which is considered extremely harmful to the climate.
According to Zeit Online , the European consumer protection organization BEUC stated that consumers were in no way confused by soy schnitzel or lentil burgers on the shelf if they were clearly labeled as vegetarian or vegan. Such names, however, made it easier to integrate the products into meals.
The marketing requirement only applies to products made in France. Farmers’ associations therefore called on the government in Paris to work in Brussels for an EU-wide regulation. Plant-based yoghurt, milk or cheese may not be sold in the EU under the names typical of cow’s milk products due to a decision by the European Court of Justice in 2017. Exceptions are long-established terms such as peanut butter or coconut milk.
European Parliament rejected regulation for meat substitutes
However, the European Parliament decided in 2020 that restaurants and retailers can continue to call plant-based meat substitutes schnitzel or burgers. A compromise proposal, according to which the note “without meat” should be mandatory, was also rejected.
“To celebrate the day, I’m going to eat a vegan burger,” said Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland after the vote, according to Zeit Online . At that time, agricultural associations had also campaigned for the ban on the marketing of meat alternatives under typical designations – the justification they gave was that this misled consumers. (tk with AFP)