France bans meat-like terms on vegetarian food

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THE vegetarians and vegans of France are up in arms over a law change that has seen terms like “meat-free steaks” and “bacon-like rashers” banned.

Some are seeing the diktat as a capitulation to the country’s powerful meat industry.

But supporters say consumers have too often been hoodwinked by products that appear to be stuffed full of meat but may contain none at all.

French food producers will no longer be able to use any term that is most commonly associated with meat, such as “burgers” or “sausages”, if that product doesn’t contain any meat — even if the description makes this clear.

Failure to adhere by the new rules could land companies with a $500,000 fine.

Farmers have been critical of not just vegetable alternatives to meat products, like vegetarian sausages, but also dairy alternatives such as vegan cheese, reported the BBC.

“It is important to combat false claims. Our products must be designated correctly: the terms of cheese or steak will be reserved for products of animal origin,” French MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche party, said in a tweet.

Australian supermarkets stock scores of meat-free products with meaty names. These include Quorn meat-free sausages and nuggets and beetroot burgers.

Matthew Herbert, an Australian who now farms cattle in New Zealand, said France’s move was “awesome”.

“France is leading the world in taking back control of the words we use for our food,” he wrote on social media.

But Wendy Higgins a spokeswoman for animal welfare charity Humane Society International, did not agree it was a positive move, reported the Independent.

“It’s a shame that instead of embracing vegan and vegetarian food, France has adopted a position of defensive paranoia,” she said.

“But ultimately it won’t stop the rise of compassionate eating because the delicious, nutritious, Earth-friendly and ethical benefits will prevail regardless of what you call the products.”

Other critics have questioned whether the rules are too wide and whether “fillets” can really be considered an exclusive term for meat.

One Twitter user said the vegetarian industry should simply rename their products “cruelty-free protein”.

In 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled terms such as milk, butter and cheese could only be used on products that contained animal milk, within the European Union.

The only exceptions were ice cream, coconut milk and almond milk.

The ruling was in a case which involved a German company that had produced plant-based products with names including “Soyatoo Tofu Butter” and “Veggie Cheese”.

The court said customers could be misled into thinking Veggie Cheese contained animal products.

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