The French government is once again trying to ban meat-related terms such as “steak”, “ham” and “ribs” on the labels of plant-based meat substitutes produced in France. According to the government, this is necessary to avoid confusion among consumers.
Paris also tried to introduce such a ban in June, but implementation was suspended soon after by the highest administrative court, the Council of State, which ruled that the regulations were too vague and had been introduced too quickly. The French government now hopes to succeed in introducing this ban. “It's a question of transparency and fairness,” said Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau.
The new regulations include a concrete list of 21 meat-related terms that will be banned. The ban will come into effect three months after publication, to give producers time to adjust their labels. Companies also have a year to sell any products still bearing old labels.
Meat industry happy, climate activists unhappy
The French government submitted the amended regulations for assessment at the end of last month to the European Commission, which applies strict rules on product labelling. In addition, the Council of State still has to rule in the main proceedings on the previous prohibition proposal. To this end, it has requested the opinion of the European Court of Justice.
With the planned ban, Paris is responding to farmers and meat processors who have been irritated for years by terms such as “vegetarian steak”. Their representatives are therefore delighted. But a pressure group made up of manufacturers of meat substitutes reacts critically. And environmental and climate activists are also unhappy.
According to vegan activist Brigitte Gothière, the Ministry of Agriculture is guilty of “manipulation”. “Do people confuse motor oil, olive oil and jojoba oil? I don't believe it,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “This ministry is an international disgrace.”
Fierce French identity struggle around meat
Food is a serious matter in France and meat has become the object of a sometimes fierce identity struggle in recent years. In addition, eaters of beloved national dishes such as steak and chips And beef bourguignon Environmental activists say they are partly responsible for the warming Earth becoming unlivable.
“Meat consumption is one of the causes of what is happening in Algeria, Spain, Greece, China, Arizona and everywhere else,” French “ecofeminist” MP Sandrine Rousseau said in late July, referring to to a recent series of forest fires. “Today, if you photograph yourself smiling with a piece of meat, you spit in the face of those who leak, burn, die of heat.”
Such accusations are frowned upon by others. And many other right-wing French politicians are certainly careful not to upset the still large number of meat lovers in the country.
When Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire visited a manufacturer of vegetable merquez and other meat substitutes in May, he was quick to boast of his love of real animal meat: “I like to eat a good steak and I don't like ultras who say you should stop eating meat altogether.
Exemplary handling of the Ministry of Meat.
Do people confuse motor oil, olive oil and jojoba oil? I do not think so.
Nor do they confuse vegetable steaks with beef ones.
This ministry is an international disgrace. https://t.co/gUBTzJNSl2
— Brigitte Gothière (@BGothiere) September 4, 2023
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