French High Court Suspends Ban On Plant-Based Brands Using ‘Meat’ Words

Legal doubt and tight deadlines have put pause on the latest food labeling ban


2 Minutes Read

A hand holds burger in front of a pink background French brands like La Vie were angry at the plant-based meat label ban - Media Credit: La Vie

The Conseil d’Etat, the highest court in France, has temporarily overturned the country’s vegan meat labeling ban.

Set to come into effect in October, the ban would have prohibited French plant-based manufacturers from using “meat” terms such as “bacon” and “steak” on packaging. (Burger was deemed the one exception.)

Protéines France lobbied for the pause on the ban. It claimed that affected companies would not have enough time to make needed branding and marketing changes by October 1. 

Motivated by a desire to prevent “consumer confusion,” the ban’s legality has also been called into question, claims Food awareness organization ProVeg International. This, despite strong support from the meat and farming sectors who wanted to see it extended throughout Europe.

France’s proposed ban came shortly after South Africa announced its own.

Labeling laws are ‘draconian’

The ban’s wording states: “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 world.”

However, just three weeks after announcing it, Conseil d’Etat has suspended the motion. Further examination of the legalities and timescales involved is pending.

ProVeg International is a staunch critic of the “draconian” labeling bans that are popping up across the world. In light of the French ban suspension, it confirmed that the court expressed “serious doubts” about its legal footing.

In a statement, ProVeg’s Jasmijn de Boo said: “We are delighted to hear that the French Conseil d’Etat has decided to suspend the decree prohibiting names for plant-based products.”

She added: “Plant-based foods are part of the solution to tackling the climate crisis and any regulation should actively support their sale and marketing, not hamper it.”

How was the ban initially received?

The plant-based meat sector was quick to vent its frustration and anger at France’s initial vegan “meat” terminology ban.  Chief amongst the critics was domestic alt-bacon innovator La Vie. The CEO took to the company’s social media channels to decry the move and its penalization of French companies.

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