SOUTH AFRICA – South African high court has banned the meat analogue products seizure plan by the government, handing a sigh of relief to the alternative meat sector that was staring at possible losses.

Lawtons Africa attorney Sarah Goldman, who represents plant-based advocacy group ProVeg, said the judgement was the “biggest victory” the plant-based food segment in SA hoped for at present.

She highlighted that the sector’s ultimate goal was to create regulations specifically for the meat analogue industry that were geared towards its specific needs and the fact that it represents numerous SMEs in SA.

According to Zinhle Tyikwe, CEO of the CGCSA, the council has provided certainty for a growing industry that is not only providing alternative, healthy nutritious products but also creating employment and contributing to economic growth.

“We have always argued that there is a need for the Department to work with the CGCSA and other industry stakeholders to formulate or draft new regulations for these products,” she said.

“We, therefore, look forward to working with the Department so that we can find common ground for the good of the analogue meat products industry and consumers in particular and the wider economy in general.”

Earlier last year, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) said that plant-based foods should not be allowed to use names intended for processed-meat products such as sausage or burgers.

It argued that such descriptions did not meet the existing regulatory definition of processed meat.

The department also wrote to all processors, importers and retailers of meat analogues, instructing them that meat alternatives must not use the product names prescribed and reserved for processed meat products.

It instructed the country’s Food Safety Agency (FSA) to seize and remove any plant-based products using names that traditionally refer to animal-based products.

Alt-meat manufacturers in South Africa took their case to court and won a reprieve against such seizures last August and that has now been reinforced for an indefinite period.

The CGCSA argued the planned seizure of vegetarian and vegan products represented an act of significant overreach given there are no regulations in South Africa which regulate meat analogue products.

The court also ruled seizures of produce could lead to “irreparable financial harm” to the businesses involved.

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