France Bites Down Hard on ‘Vegetarian Steak’ Mislabelling

France has chewed over the issue of vegetarian food makers claiming carnivore terms to describe their plant-based wares and banned the use of the term “steak” on anything but the animal product.

Fines will be issued against any vegan company that violates the directive.

Other terms that can no longer be used for lab grown, meat-free products include “escalope”, “ham”, “filet” and “prime rib”, according to the decree, AFP reports.

The ruling is a response to a long-standing complaint by the meat industry that terms like “vegetarian ham” or “vegan sausage” were confusing for consumers after they were hijacked by vegan manufacturers in an effort to enhance the appeal of their products.

The ruling is based on a 2020 law whose application was temporarily suspended by the State Council in June 2022 after a complaint from Proteines France, a consortium of French companies selling plant-based food, the AFP report sets out.

According to the revised decree published Tuesday, some products containing a small amount of plant-based content can continue to use meaty names, such as merguez sausage, bacon or cordon bleu.

Producers elsewhere in the lefty Union (E.U.) can continue to sell vegetarian food with meat names in France.

Proteines France has been arguing that the French law is at odds with E.U. food rules.

Individuals breaking the labelling law can be fined up to 1,500 euros ($1,630), rising to 7,500 euros for companies.

Producers have been granted one year to sell their existing stock before any penalties are applied, the decree said.

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