PARIS (Reuters) – France unveiled on Monday revised proposals banning the use of meat names like “steak” and “spare ribs” for plant-based food made in the country as it seeks to avoid “misleading claims” of some meat alternatives.
The first country in the European Union to attempt to impose such a restriction, France had already tried to pass such a measure in June last year but it was suspended by the country’s highest administrative court a month later, which argued that it was too vague and the timing too short.
The global plant-based protein market has seen a sharp rise in recent years, mainly driven by increasing demand for environment-friendly and healthy food. The industry often uses references to meat products, fuelling anger among livestock farmers and meat processors in France, the EU’s biggest agricultural producer.
The new draft decree, which only applies to products made and sold in France, bans a list of 21 meat names to describe protein-based products, including “steak”, “escalope”, “spare ribs”, “ham” or “butcher”.
However, over 120 meat-associated names such as “cooked ham”, “poultry”, “sausage” or “bacon” will still be authorised provided that the products do not exceed a certain amount of plant proteins, with percentages ranging between 0.5% and 6%.
“This new draft decree reflects our desire to put an end to misleading claims … by using names relating to meat products for foodstuffs that do not contain them,” French Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau said in a statement.
“It is an issue of transparency and loyalty which meets a legitimate expectation of consumers and producers,” he added.
The word “burger”, used by many brands to attract consumers, is not included on the lists.
The decree will come into force three months after publication to give operators time to adapt their labelling. It also leaves open the possibility for manufacturers to sell all product stocks labelled before its entry into force, at the latest one year after publication.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)