New Ban Relating to Plant-Based Products in France Could Signal Major Changes for UK Businesses

A new Decree published in France which formally bans the use of meat names on processed products made from plant proteins could have a significant impact on UK manufacturers, a regulatory expert has warned.

The Decree, which will come into force on 1st October 2022, states that plant-based protein alternative products in France cannot use phrases, names, or terms that refer to animal species including beef, chicken, pork, lamb and steak, commercial descriptions such as bacon, sausage or burger, and/or terminologies including filleted, minced, and cured.

A similar decision to prohibit the use of similar terms has also been introduced in South Africa, causing debate between meat manufacturers and plant-based stakeholders.

Joanna Becker, Senior Regulatory Advisor at product information people, Ashbury, explains: “European countries have had an issue with the use of meat-related or animal-related terms on plant-based products for a long time, so it’s interesting that France has become the first country to officially ban the use of such names, both legal and customary.”

Joanna Becker, Senior Regulatory Advisor at Ashbury

Whether or not the ban will impact manufacturers in the UK is still unknown, but Joanna advises that – regardless of this – the ban will not apply to all.

“There is strong indication that France is upholding the Mutual Recognition principle, with products manufactured by a food business in the EU for distribution inside the EU Member States or European Economic Area not subject to the requirements in the new Decree.

“With no mention yet of products produced outside the EU or EEA, we simply don’t know what consequences it could have for products manufactured in the UK and sold into France – although the likelihood of UK manufacturers being impacted is quite high. Here, consumers are already used to seeing interchangeable animal-related phrases and names, such as meat and dairy, on plant-based products.

“If the changes did impact UK businesses supplying to France, we could see a huge shake-up in the way plant-based products are labelled. It could be the case that the UK carries on using commonly accepted terms for plant-based products and adapts the labels for each market. However, as the plant-based sector has been a point of contention for many countries in recent years, the new Decree could also spark the introduction of new, original, and more widely-accepted terms across the board.”

Launched in 2011, Ashbury is a UK leading consultancy service provider, helping businesses navigate the complex world of product information regulations for food and non-food products. Its expert regulatory team guides clients from a place of uncertainty to complete reassurance, helping them to understand, apply, and comply with domestic and international regulations, and empowering them to help their customers make safe and informed choices. For more information, please call 0845 459 5019, email hello@ashbury.global, or visit www.ashbury.global.