Vegan ‘steak’ on the back burner? France suspends ban on ‘meaty’ terms for plant-based products


By Flora Southey



France’s Council of State (Conseil d’État) has agreed to put its ban on the use of words like ‘steak’, ‘bacon’, ‘sausage’ or ‘Carpaccio’ to describe plant-based foods en pause.


Back in 2020, France took the decision to outlaw use of words traditionally used to describe meat products (with the exception of ‘burger’) for plant-based alternatives.


Earlier this month, the country – considered the largest beef producer in the EU – published the official decree, announcing the ban would be enforced from October 2022.


However just yesterday (27 July), France’s highest administrative court agreed to grant a reprieve, following a request from plant-based and alternative protein-focused association Protéines France.


‘Not enough time’​


According to the French authorities, the decree will prohibit the use of ‘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 goal, according to officials, is to avoid consumer confusion.


In response, Protéines France filed a motion for a temporary reprieve, arguing that the plant-based industry would not have enough time to make appropriate changes to branding and marketing by the 1 October deadline.


Protéines France represents players in the country’s plant-based and alt protein space. Members include Avril, Nestlé, Roquette, and Ÿnsect.


According to the industry group, the short timeframe risked confusing consumers and losing market share.


As reported by Le Monde​, Protéines France’s lawyer Guillaume Hannotin said the Council of State had ‘accepted our plea’ based on the ‘impossibility for vegetable foodstuffs to leave the lexical field which comes close or far from meat’.


Hannotin stressed that some of the terminology in question, such as ‘Carpaccio’, do not have their origins in meat. Indeed, ‘Carpaccio’ is named after Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, who is perhaps best known for his use of red and white tones.


Mixed reactions​ ...


A ‘significant’ impact to third country producers?​ ...