France drafts decree to restrict plant-based ‘meat’ labelling

France drafts decree to restrict plant-based ‘meat’ labelling

The French Government has drafted a decree to restrict the naming of plant-based meat alternatives, after attempting to pass a similar policy in 2022.

It has been noted that the ban does not include the word ‘burger’.

A decree to prohibit the use of names for plant-based foods usually used to designate foodstuffs of animal origin was initially published on 22nd June 2022, but the Council of State suspended its implementation after examining the appeals filed.

The French Government has drafted a new decree, taking into account the observations of the Council of State, which replaces the previous decree. It was delivered to the European Commission on 23rd August 2023.

This new draft policy governs the use of names traditionally designating foods of animal origin for the description, marketing or promotion of foodstuffs based on plant proteins manufactured and marketed on French territory. The foods covered by the draft decree are those incorporating vegetable proteins.

How will this affect businesses?

The decree establishes the list of terms prohibited from being used in the marketing of foods containing plant proteins, and the list of terms authorised for use in marketing. A total of 21 meat names including ‘steak’, ‘ham’ and ‘butcher’ are all included in the ban, while the word ‘burger’ is not.

In addition, the draft text provides for sanctions in the event of violation of its conditions, stating the policy will come into force three months after its publication to give operators time to adapt their labelling. Government will give businesses the opportunity to sell products manufactured or labelled before its entry into force until stocks last, and at the latest one year from the decree’s publication.

Marc Fesneau, France’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, 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.”

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