France bans companies from using ‘steak' and 'sausage' to describe vegetarian food
Some food organisations have suggested it could impact the climate crisis
France is becoming the first country in the European Union to ban words such as "steak" and "sausage" from being included in advertisements for plant-based meals.
The rise of veganism has seen a huge surge in plant-based products that imitate meat in recent years - many of which still include references to meat.
However an agreement which comes into effect this October will see this change, The National reports.
The official decree, published on Thursday, stated: "It will not be possible to use sector-specific terminology traditionally associated with meat and fish to designate products that do not belong to the animal world and which, in essence, are not comparable."
The regulation, which was decided in 2020, will only apply to products made in France, which leaves the door open to exports. France's biggest farm lobby FNSEA argues this does not go far enough.
The word "burger", used by US brands such as Beyond Meat, will still be allowed to be used, as it does not refer specifically to meat, France's meat industry association, Interbev said.
In a statement encouraging other countries to adopt the law, Interbev said: "This provision is a first step on French territory, a pioneer in the protection of its names, which should be extended at the European level."
Terms such as "milk", "butter" and "cheese" for products that do not come from animals have been banned in the EU since 2017.
Other countries have done the same
The news comes in the same week that South Africa also banned plant-based brands from using meaty terminology. The South African Meat Processors Association (SAMPA) said the terms are "misleading," while plant-based companies have said the opposite.
Speaking to Food Navigator, Tammy Fry, who works at plant-based company Fry Family Foods, said: "Our product descriptions play an important role in helping out consumers understand how to use our products."
The ban will also severely impact climate crisis action, one food awareness organisation.
Donovan Will, country director, ProVeg International said the new law is "exactly what we don’t need when the world's scientists are telling us we urgently need to reduce our meat consumption to help brake dangerous global warming."
Last year, Texas also approved a bill banning "meat" and "beef" labels on plant-based products. Australia also launched an inquiry into a potential ban.
What about in the UK?
Currently, the UK is not facing such bans. In fact, back in 2019, a committee at the House of Lords unanimously agreed that using words like “sausage” and “burger” when describing vegan and vegetarian food makes labels clearer and more easy to understand.
Though this year, the Ulster Farmers Union in Northern Ireland called for a ban on the use of meat-related terms on plant-based products. In response, vegan meat company THIS called for guinea pigs to be "fined" as well as butterflies and catfish to change their names in a joke manifesto.
THIS founder and co-CEO Andy Shovel in a statement said: "It is mind-blowing that the Ulster Farmers Union reckons that UK consumers could pick up a pack of our ‘THIS ISN’T CHICKEN’, and think it was previously feathered and clucking. The massive, massive clue is in the name. Other brands in our category have equally not-at-all-confusing product names, like meat-free sausages."