France: Terms Like ‘Bacon’ And ‘Steak’ On Meat Substitutes To Be Banned

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018 | 1036 Views

France’s MPs have voted to prohibit using meat-related words like ‘bacon’, ‘sausage’ and ‘steak’ for meat substitutes, after such precedence in the dairy industry.

Jean-Baptiste Moreau, a minister of parliament for President Macron’s La République En Marche party had first proposed the ban, arguing that terms like ‘vegetarian sausages’ or ‘plant burgers’ can be misleading for consumers.

Regarding the passing of this bill on Twitter, Moreau commented: “Adoption of my amendments to better inform the consumer about their diet. It is important to fight against false claims. Our products must be designated correctly: the terms cheese and steak will be reserved for products of animal origin.”

Moreau referenced the example set by the dairy industry in 2017—when the European Court of Justice ruled that dairy-related words like butter, cream and milk should be saved for animal-derived products, and must not be appropriated by manufacturers of plant-based food products.

Europe’s highest court has cautioned manufacturers of plant-based products—like almond and soya milk—will have to rebrand their products to omit the word ‘milk’, or be prosecuted.

This development in France is a worrying move for the meat substitutes market—and for other free-form food categories. Critics have cited advantages in using terms like ‘almond milk’ and ‘vegetarian sausages’—giving them a competitive edge over companies producing real meat or real milk.

France’s decision came in the form of an amendment to an agriculture bill that also maintains the court’s ruling on dairy alternatives. French companies found to have violated the ban could be fined as much as €300,000 (or US$364,000).

In US, the state of Missouri is also contemplating a ban of meat-related terms for the sale of meat substitutes—the earliest example of the broader effect of France’s decision.


What Does The Amendment State?

Mr Moreau’s tabled amendment states that it seeks to address “certain commercial practices misleading for the consumer, which associate terms such as ‘steak’, ‘fillet’, ‘bacon’, and ‘sausage’ that are not solely—or not at all—composed of meat.”

“More generally, it is concerned with all denominations of products of animal origin—especially milk, cream and cheese. So a preparation based on meat and plant matter, like soy, which is very profitable for the producer compared to a pure beef steak, can be the subject of a ‘marketing’ presentation which gives an impression to the consumer that they are consuming only meat.”

“Similarly, some vegetarian or vegan products paradoxically use meat vocabulary to put their products forward: ‘taste of bacon’, ‘vegan merguez’, ‘sausage substitute’—a principle of equivalence between a pure pork sausage and a ‘vegetarian sausage substitute’ is thus imposed on the consumer.”

“Let us recall, for all intents and purposes, that the European Court of Justice of the European Union, in judgement of 14 June 2017 concerning the use of terms such as ‘soy milk’ or ‘vegan cheese’ specified that dairy product, being derived from milk, must contain milk’s constituents. In fact, a name used for a dairy product should not be legally used to designate a purely plant-based product. This amendment fits that logic.”