France reserves familiar "meat" names for meat only

The French government has published a decree with a list of names reserved for animal products. From now on, it is forbidden to use these names for vegetable protein products. The list includes names like ham, sausage, bacon, steak, prime rib and filet.

The ruling is a response to a long-standing complaint by the meat industry that terms like vegan steak or vegetarian bacon is confusing for consumers. It only applies to plant-based food produced in France: producers elsewhere in the EU can continue to sell vegetarian food with meat names in France.

French producers have one year to clear their existing stock. After that, companies breaking the labelling law can be fined up to 7.500 Euro.

The Italian lower house passed a bill last November to ban the use of meat-related names, such as 'salami' or 'steak', for plant-based meat products. After a wave of outrage in Italy, the third-largest vegan market in the EU, the government postponed the bill.

In EU Law, there already exists a ban on certain terms including “milk” and “yoghurt” for plant-based dairy, even if they are accompanied with qualifiers such as “plant-based” or “vegan”. However, until now, the EU refrains from regulating the use of ‘meaty’ names.