It’s a concern that many in the food producing sector have been highlighting, as well as folks on the consumer side. Now, France is doing something about it, with new federal legislation banning the use of product names which may suggest that Meat Alternatives or Vegan products are actually Meat…
Beyond Meat is ahead of the labeling wave, distinguishing Meat Alternatives from ‘Real’ Meat.
So is The Impossible Burger, a ‘lab Meat’ Beef replacement that is already into large-scale production and is being sold in restaurants across the U.S. So far, it’s being marketed
more as a novelty food than a viable, economical Meat Alternative.
The new French law states (translation): “Names associated with products of animal origin may not be used to market food products containing a significant proportion of plant-based materials.”
Under the new law, makers of Vegetarian and Vegan foods can no longer use terms such as ‘steak, filet, Bacon, or Sausage’ to describe their goods. Phrases such as ‘Bacon flavoured’ are also prohibited.
This seems not too far forward from some other picky French laws that restrict the use of names like ‘Bordeaux’ and ‘Champagne’ to wines that are made in those regions to regulated specifications. They do it for Cheeses and other products, too.
But the new law, governing ‘Meat’ names is not to protect anything; rather, it’s to ensure that consumers are not misled about the contents or makeup of Vegetarian or Vegan products.
Not just a French ‘thing’…
The ‘Domain of Origin’ laws of France are not unique. Italy has them, too, and other countries are lined up to board the bandwagon. So far, though, France is the only jurisdiction with a Meat Lab labeling law. Guess who’s right behind them? The U.S.! The American Cattlemen’s Association is demanding that Vegan and Vegetarian products sold as Meat Alternatives be clearly labelled as ‘not Meat’.
No legislation in the works in that direction, yet, but the U.S. Dairy industry has managed to get a bill before Congress to help consumers avoid misunderstandings about real Dairy products versus Dairy Alternatives. The DAIRY PRIDE Act is currently stalled in Congress, but it appears it will be approved if it ever gets to a vote.
BTW: DAIRY PRIDE is actually an acronym for: ‘Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and (Cheese To) Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act’.
The DAIRY PRIDE act has broad implications for the food industry. If enacted, it would mean that products like Soy Milk couldn’t call themselves ‘Milk’ anymore. And Peanut Spread could no longer call itself ‘Butter’.
If similar labeling regulations eventually come into force in the Meat and Alternatives sector, it could mean that common terms used to describe certain foods could be banned for use with Vegan and Vegetarian products. There’s already a controversy about whether the term ‘Burger’ should be restricted to use on Real Meat products. If so, ‘Veggie Burgers’ would have to call themselves ‘Vegetable Source Patties’ or something similar.
No resolution to the issue, yet…
We’re a long way from an overall resolution of the issue of labeling or otherwise identifying Meat Alternatives, such as ‘Lab Meat’, to differentiate it from ‘Real Meat’, grown on ranches, slaughtered, cut and marketed the old-fashioned way. The Cattlemen obviously see their way of life, incomes and competitive position threatened by the large-scale marketing of lab-grown Meat products and non-Meat alternatives. I offered some suggestions for them in a previous post, linked above. But I do believe lab Meats and alternatives with ‘significant amounts of Plant-based materials’ are coming. It’s only a matter of time, because it’s ultimately the only way we can hope to feed a ballooning world population in the future.
~ Maggie J.