France bans vegetarian and plant-based products from using meat terminology

The French government has cracked down on vegetarian product labelling and producers with a new decree ruling that they can no longer use certain terminology, such as steak and sausage, to describe their meat-free contents.  

Incited by complaints from the meat industry, who insist that vegetarian packaging is confusing for customers, the French government has ruled that vegetarian and vegan items can no longer use descriptors traditionally used for meat products. These include titles such as escalope, bacon, fillet and ham. Items like Cordon Bleu, which include dairy and plant-based ingredients alongside meat, are unaffected.  

According to the decree, which was formalised on 27th February, these terms will be henceforth reserved for the meat industry alone. The recent ruling is based on a 2020 law that was suspended in June 2022 because of objections from Proteines France, a group of plant-based food companies that banded together in a consortium.  

The new ruling applies only to French producers, meaning that producers of imported vegetarian fare can continue to use meaty names on their merchandise labels. This contradiction has already caused an outpouring of criticism, including from Proteines France, who argue that the French law is not consistent with EU food regulations and is discriminatory against French brands.  

Fines up to €1,500 can be imposed on individual rule-breakers, going up to a hefty €7,500 for companies. In a not completely heartless move, the government has given sellers one year to offload stock with the current packaging before they will start imposing any levies.  


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Photo source: Like Meat, Unsplash