France follows Italy on meat sounding with a decree approved at the end of February, perhaps also in response to farmers’ protests. Within three months it will be prohibited to use the typical denominations of meat cuts for vegetable substitutes. It will be forbidden to sell or offer vegan steak, meat-free bacon, vegetable sausages and the like on menus and, for those who continue to do so, hefty fines of 7,500 euros will be imposed.

It is not yet known how producers will decide to rename foods that have been known for years with names that recall those of meat. It is no coincidence that this has always been one of the arguments of those who have tried to oppose it, who have always underlined the inevitable disorientation of customers who find themselves faced with products called by names different from those they are used to. But the decree has now come into force, and everyone will have to adapt.

Vegetarian vegan sausages with rosemary and onion baked in a cast iron skillet.
It is not yet known how manufacturers will decide to rename the foods

The text lists in detail all the names that can no longer be used, which concern both cuts of meat and processed meats, and will be applied not only to vegetable products in the strict sense, but also to those based on mushrooms. However, the names used until now for mixed products made with meat and vegetables remain permitted, as long as the percentage of the latter does not exceed a certain percentage. For example, a sausage that has 0.5% vegetable flour, a filet mignon that contains up to 1%, a chorizo ​​sauce that has 1.5% and other types can continue to be called bacon or pancetta. of sauces that contain up to 3% vegetables.

A troubled history

The newly approved decree is not new: it was written in 2020 and brought to approval in 2022. However, as reported Food Navigatedr, its entry into force had been postponed due to an appeal to the Council of State presented by Protéines France, the trade association that brings together numerous producers of alternative proteins to meat. In that version, companies would have had to comply by October 1, 2022, but the association argued that they would not have enough time to rebrand, repackage and launch new marketing campaigns that would make customers understand that it was only a linguistic make-up. And everything was put on hold. Now the acceleration, in times that raise some doubts, given the imminent elections and the protests of recent days.

A global world

France is not the first country to pass similar laws. South Africa and, more recently, Italy have also introduced this type of regulation, while the European campaign “Ceci n’est pas un steak”, launched in 2020 to obtain community regulations, had failed. In 2017, however, the same approach was successful for cheeses, yoghurts, butter and milk, and in fact there are no longer any vegetable products with this type of name on EU soil.

However, as always happens in this type of national initiative, the new law must deal with large food multinationals and a global market. For this reason, paradoxically, it will be possible to continue to sell plant foods that have names reminiscent of meat, if made in third countries, European or otherwise.

happyvore chipos tubes france vegetable sausages 2024 Cedric Meston meat sounding
Cedric Meston posted a photo with his company’s vegetable sausages packaged before and after May 1st, the day after which they will perhaps be called tubes?

Is Meat sounding a problem?

Therefore, as could happen in Italy with cultivated meat, it will not be possible to sell national vegetable substitutes with names that recall meat, while products arriving abroad, regardless of the name, will have no problems. And this, of course, greatly worries French producers, who fear being overtaken by the big brands who already have a loyal clientele, and whose products will remain unchanged, if not produced in France. According to their associations, the entire sector could suffer heavy repercussions, as could happen due to the effort to reduce the consumption of meat by the French, for environmental and health reasons.

Some take it ironically, like Cedric Meston, the founder of HappyVore, a French company of vegetable meat substitutes called, until now, with names such as nuggets, steaks, cutlets and so on. Meston posted a photo with his packaged vegetable sausages before and after May 1st, the day after which they will perhaps be called tubes (?).

Roberto Pinton’s in-depth analysis

Decree 2024-144 will come into force on May 1st (although, in reality, the Council of State could block it, as it has already done with the first similar decree of 2022 “relating to the use of certain designations employed for designer denrées behavent des protéines végétales”).

Which means that not only now, but also from May 1st, Italian (and German, Austrian, Swiss, Turkish, etc.) companies will be able to freely sell plant-based products in France under the names Bacon, Ballottine, Chorizo, Coppa , Cordon bleu, Escalope , Filet , Filet mignon , Fuseau, Galantine, Jambon cuit, Jambon cru, Jambonneau, Lard gras, Lardons, Lonzo, Mortadelle , Noix de jambon , Nuggets , Pancetta, Pastrami, Pâté, Salami, Saucisse, Saucisson, Omelettes and dozens more (which the companies had never even dreamed of using).

This (i.e. the ban on only national companies from using names that are permitted to foreign companies) would also have happened in Italy, if the Commission had not made law no. 1 December 2023 inapplicable. 172 (Provisions regarding the ban on the production and placing on the market of food and feed consisting of, isolated or produced from cell or tissue cultures deriving from vertebrate animals as well as the ban on the denomination of meat for processed products containing vegetable proteins) because the text had been adopted before the end of the suspension period foreseen by the EU notification procedures.

In conclusion

This is the typical case in which the law, introduced to please a sector of the industry to which it wants to demonstrate closeness, only damages other national companies, as it cannot be imposed on foreign companies.
In France, soy frankfurters (or saucissons), as well as chickpea nuggets and seitan escalopes, will continue to be available to consumers, only that (unless the Council of State rejects the law) they cannot be produced nationally, but must be produced by foreign companies, who can only be grateful to the French authorities for having swept away the French competition and for having given them a new market.
A rule, therefore, absolutely ridiculous and counterproductive, as was the legendary Italian law n.172/2023.

© All rights reserved. Photo: Depositphotos, Cedric Meston Linkedin

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