Despite the massive uptake of vegan products worldwide, two countries have taken a backward step by removing “meaty” terms on their packaging.
South Africa and France have banned various vegan foods from being described as “meaty”, “sausages” or “steaks”, while “nuggets”, “vegetarian sausages”, “ribs”, and “chicken-style” and “bacon” are “prescribed and reserved for processed meat products” and must not be used by plant-based producers.
The French government have said that “It will not be possible to use 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 official decree reads.France is the first E.U. country to ban the use of common terms on vegan foods in a move it says is to protect the country’s animal product producers as well as consumers. It initially pushed the E.U. to take similar bloc-wide measures, but that motion was rejected. Producers selling vegan food in France will have until October to update their packaging.
Whereas in South Africa, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has also banned the use of meat-like terms on plant-based product labels. In an excessive show of force they even removed the The Just Egg products from a large chain. According to DALRRD, names such as “nuggets”, “vegetarian sausages”, “ribs”, and “chicken-style” are “prescribed and reserved for processed meat products” and must not be used by plant-based producers. The Food Safety Agency has been instructed to seize any plant-based products using these terms. Just Egg has also come under fire from DALRDD, forcing a major retailer Woolworths to stop selling the product and only sell eggs from chickens.
Meanwhile, consumer research worldwide has shown that consumers are not confused by plant-based foods and have no problem perceiving the difference.
South Africa has introduced ambitious plans to tackle climate change, yet ridiculous actions such as these, questions their intentions. The measure flies in the face of the Government’s own plans to introduce legislation to tackle climate change. But the South African Government’s Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development department edict, sent out on June 22, instructs the Food Safety Agency that any plant-based products using names that traditionally refer to animal-based products must be taken off the shelves.