France is reconsidering a proposal to ban the use of animal-related terms for plant-based food products, such as ‘steak.’
In 2020, France’s Ministry of Agriculture initiated a move to prohibit the use of animal-related labels for products containing plant-based protein substitutes through a labeling law. The ensuing regulation was originally set to go into effect in 2022 but was temporarily halted by the Council of State, a judicial body in Paris, following appeals and feedback.
Endorsed by Marc Fesneau, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty in France, following an examination of the Council of State’s recommendations, the fresh decree will become effective three months after the notification issued on August 23. However, it must receive prior approval from the European Commission.
In a statement released on September 4th, the Ministry indicated that “penalties” would be enforced in the event of non-compliance with the decree’s directives once it is put into effect.
Fesneau said, “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. 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. This is the objective of this decree and of all government policy in this area.”
France’s draft decree applies to plant-based foods “manufactured and marketed on French territory”, or the promotion of such foods, and applies to the “use of names traditionally designating foodstuffs of animal origin”.
In response to the decree, Jasmijn de Boo, the CEO of the plant-based advocacy group ProVeg International, said the labelling rules are “counter-productive” and suggested consumers are not misled by animal-type descriptions on alternative-foods packaging.
“Plant-based foods are a vital key to solving the climate crisis as well as ensuring 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 said in a statement.
“Governments need to be actively promoting plant-based food, such as through subsidies and public procurement, not introducing restrictive measures.”
Suppliers of plant-based protein products will have three months to comply once the decree comes into force to “give operators time to adapt their labelling, as well as the possibility of marketing foodstuffs manufactured or labelled before its entry into force until stocks last, and at the latest one year from its publication”, the Ministry said.