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France bans veggie ‘steaks’

PARIS (AFP) – Vegetable-based meat alternatives will no longer be able to label their products as steaks or sausages in France, according to an official ordinance published on Thursday.

The ban, which is to enter effect on October 1, has been keenly awaited by the meat industry as a growing number of vegetable-based products hit grocery shelves.

“It will no longer be possible to use terms proper to sectors traditionally associated with meat and fish to designate products not belonging to the animal kingdom,” said the text.

The measure is “an essential step in favour of the transparency of information for consumers, as well as the preservation of our products and know-how,” said head of the Interbev trade association of livestock ranchers and meatpackers Jean-François Guihard.

The ban will apply to products made in France, but not to goods produced in its European trade partners, prompting a call by other farmers’ unions for Paris to push the matter in Brussels.

ONAV, an association of scientists and health professionals specialising on meat alternatives, said the measure was clearly designed to protect the economic interest of the meat industry.

It said the measure risks hindering in France the shift towards more sustainable and healthy vegetable-based alternatives to meat which has a heavy climate impact.

In the European Union there is no prohibition on vegetable-based alternatives using the name of the meat product they imitate. This does not hold true for dairy products – the use of yoghurt and cheese by vegetable-based products is banned.

Plant-based burger patties being cooked in a pan. PHOTO: AFP