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In a win for the vegan meat industry a top French court has halted the banning of food items labelled with “meaty” terms.

A decree published by the French government last month said ‘meaty’ words such as steak, bacon, and sausage would be prohibited from 1 May 2024.

Breaking the rules could land producers with a fine of up to €7,500.

The list of banned words, which was described as ‘extensive’, were also prohibited from use in the marketing, describing, and promoting of plant-based meat. Instead, alternative descriptions would have to be used, with previous suggestions including terms like ‘vegetable discs’ or ‘tubes’.

But now, the Conseil d’État says there is ‘serious doubt’ about whether the ban is legal – meaning these words can still be used.

‘Meaty’ names for plant-based products

The decision by the Conseil d’État marks the second time this type of ban has been suspended.

A similar decree was supposed to come into force in June 2022, but was suspended following complaints from plant-based producers and complaints from meat-free associations. According to the Conseil d’État, the ban would affect French plant-based producers’ financial interests, while foreign competitors would still be able to use meaty words while selling products in the country.

The court said the wording of the decree was too vague, and the timeline for its implementation was too short in its decision.

This time, the court again listened to worries from plant-based food producers when it came to the decree (which was similar in wording to the 2022 version, and proposed last September).

In contrast, meat producers supported the decree, which was part of the government’s attempts to support livestock farmers – who requested the ban in the first place.

French plant-based producers

However, according to the Conseil d’État, such a ban would affect plant-based producers’ financial interests. Under the ban, producers would need to change their packaging and marketing, meaning they may have to stop sales for a while.

In addition, because the decree would only apply to companies producing plant-based meat in France, foreign competitors would still be able to use meaty words while selling products in the country.

The European Court of Justice has been asked for guidance on the decree, which will remain suspended until such advice is received.

Original source: https://www.veganfoodandliving.com

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