South Africa Rules That Vegan Meat Cannot Be Seized From Supermarket Shelves

Governments taking swings at plant-based meat just keep missing


3 Minutes Read

Plant-based meat products South Africa's High Court has ruled in favor of plant-based meat - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

The Johannesburg High Court has overturned a plan by the South African government to remove all plant-based meat alternatives from supermarket shelves.

Read more: France Just Suspended Its Ban On Words Like ‘Steak’ For Plant Foods

A ban on the use of “meat” words for plant-based alternatives meant that non-compliant products were set to be seized by South Africa’s Food Safety Agency (FSA) in 2022. Following an intervention by the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), the High Court granted a last-minute order to stop the seizure while the a review of the ban took place.

Now the review has concluded, with the Court has ruled in favor of plant-based proteins. Advocates for plant-based diets are celebrating the ruling. 

“ProVeg welcomes this decision by the Johannesburg High Court,” ProVeg South Africa director, Donovan Will, said in a statement. “We appreciate the efforts by the CGCSA and we hope that this latest development encourages [agriculture department] to meet with stakeholders in the plant-based space to discuss the issue further.”

Plant-based burgers here to stay

Fry's plant-based sausages
Richard van der Spuy / Alamy Stock Photo A victory for plant-based meat companies like Fry’s

South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) argued that its ban on words like “burger” and “sausage” for plant-based products was to save shoppers from confusion.

Read more: Denmark Unveils ‘Groundbreaking’ Plant-Based Food Roadmap

DALRRD ordered the FSA to confiscate any products on sale that used these terms on the packaging. ProVeg urged the government to rethink the ban, and plant-based meat company Fry Family Food (known widely as Fry’s) lodged an a formal objection. 

The CGCSA successfully argued that under South African law it was not clear how the seizures could be legally or otherwise enforced. It described the High Court ruling as a “collective victory for the meat analogue sector, which is a growing source for alternative plant based food products, as well as a source of employment throughout the value chain.”

Plant-based burgers, nuggets, sausages, and other products can now remain on sale in South Africa. 

Failed attacks on plant-based alternatives

South Africa is one of several countries that has tried – and failed – to hobble the growth of plant-based alternatives. 

France has just suspended its ban on using the word “steak” on plant-based food labels. Earlier this year, the Belgian government announced that plans to ban “meat” words on vegan products is now unlikely to happen.

Read more: Plant-Based Meat Is ‘Reshaping Retail’ In Australia

ProVeg’s Will acknowledged the challenges of regulating a relatively new industry such as plant-based protein. But he said that there are “undeniable benefits” environmental and health benefits to the helping the industry grow. “ProVeg would love to work with the South African government to better take advantage of plant-based products for the people of our nation,” he said.

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