FRANCE – In a recent turn of events, France is revisiting its controversial plan to prohibit the use of animal-derived names for plant-based foods, such as ‘steak’ and ‘sausage.’
This initiative, initially introduced by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture in 2020, aimed to enforce labeling laws for products incorporating vegetable protein alternatives.
However, it faced suspension by the Council of State, a judiciary body in Paris, due to feedback from appeals.
Now, after a thorough review of the Council of State’s observations, Marc Fesneau, France’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, has approved a new decree set to come into force after a three-month notification period, pending approval by the European Commission.
According to the Ministry penalties would be imposed for any infringement of the decree once implemented.
“This new draft decree reflects our desire to put an end to misleading claims, as provided for by law, by using names relating to meat products for foodstuffs that do not contain them,” Minister Fesneau stated.
“It is an issue of transparency and loyalty which meets a legitimate expectation of consumers and producers. To maintain the bond of trust with consumers, labelling and its intelligibility are essential.”
France’s draft decree will apply to plant-based foods manufactured and marketed on French territory or the promotion of such foods, specifically targeting the use of names traditionally designating foodstuffs of animal origin.
In response to the decree, Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of the plant-based advocacy group ProVeg International, expressed her disagreement, labeling the labelling rules as “counter-productive.”
She argued that consumers are not misled by animal-type descriptions on alternative-foods packaging and emphasized that plant-based foods play a vital role in addressing the climate crisis and fostering economic growth.
“Many meat and dairy companies themselves know this, which is why they are investing in both plant-based and animal-based foods, and in some cases switching to plant-based foods entirely,” de Boo stated in a press release.
“Governments need to be actively promoting plant-based food, such as through subsidies and public procurement, not introducing restrictive measures.”
Meanwhile, suppliers of plant-based protein products will have a three-month grace period to comply with the decree once it comes into force.
The period aims to allow operators to adapt their labeling and market foodstuffs manufactured or labeled before the decree’s enforcement, with a maximum timeframe of one year from its publication, according to the Ministry.