Meaty names for veg­e­tar­ian food are ruled off the menu in France

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Henry Sa­muel in Paris

THE French can say adieu to “le veg­gie burger” and au revoir to soya steaks af­ter their par­lia­ment banned the use of meaty sound­ing names for veg­etable­based sub­sti­tutes be­cause they mis­lead con­sumers.

In what is seen as a vic­tory for France’s pow­er­ful meat lobby, the new bill adopted on Thurs­day will make it il­le­gal for veg­e­tar­ian food pro­duc­ers to use “steak”, “mer­guez”, “ba­con” or “sausage” – or any other meat-re­lated ex­pres­sion – to de­scribe food that is not partly or wholly com­posed of meat.

Even veg­e­tar­ian prod­ucts promis­ing to have a “ba­con taste” will be out of bounds.

“It is im­por­tant to fight against false claims,” said Jean-bap­tiste Moreau, a cat­tle farmer and MP for La République en Marche (LREM) party, who pro­posed the law.

In a re­ac­tion on Twit­ter, he said: “Our prod­ucts must be des­ig­nated cor­rectly: the terms of #cheese or #steak will be re­served for prod­ucts of an­i­mal ori­gin.”

Mr Moreau has ar­gued that current la­belling con­fuses con­sumers who may wrongly be­lieve they are eat­ing pure, high-qual­ity meat in­stead of a meatand-soy com­bi­na­tion, or a wholly veg­e­tar­ian prod­uct.

The text stip­u­lates that no food prod­ucts con­tain­ing a “sig­nif­i­cant part of veg­etable-based mat­ter” can be pre­sented as meat.

It points out that a mix­ture of “meat and veg­etable-based prod­ucts, like soya, which is very prof­itable for the pro­ducer com­pared to a pure meat beef steak can be mar­keted in a way that gives the con­sumer the im­pres­sion he is con­sum­ing meat only”.

It de­nounced the “to­tally para­dox­i­cal” prac­tice of pre­sent­ing ve­gan prod­ucts as hav­ing a “ba­con taste” or be­ing a “sausage sub­sti­tute”. The dif­fer­ence, it said, must be spelt out.

The change, which was tabled in the form of an amend­ment to a food and agri­cul­ture bill, will also ap­ply to veg­e­tar­ian or ve­gan prod­ucts mar­keted as dairy al­ter­na­tives.

It comes a year af­ter the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice ruled that dairy-re­lated terms, such as “milk”, “cream”, “chan­tilly” and “cheese”, are only al­lowed to be used on prod­ucts made with real an­i­mal milk.

Fail­ure to com­ply with the reg­u­la­tion will be pun­ish­able by fines of up to €300,000 (£263,000).

The de­bate comes af­ter Marks and Spencer caused con­tro­versy in the UK for sell­ing “cau­li­flower steak”, a slice of grilled cau­li­flower with herbs, for £2 ear­lier this year.

One Twit­ter com­men­ta­tor noted that the mark-up was out­ra­geous as “a cau­li­flower costs about 69p from a lo­cal veg shop”.

“It is just pa­tro­n­is­ing to sug­gest a cau­li­flower is a sat­is­fac­tory sub­sti­tute for a steak,” wrote a blog­ger. “Let’s face it, a white broc­coli cov­ered in salt and pep­per and grid­dled to within an inch of its life, hasn’t got a patch on a medium rare rump with a side of pep­per­corn sauce, has it?”

UK restau­rants have been sell­ing veg­gie burg­ers for years, but Gal­lic eater­ies only re­cently joined the band­wagon, hop­ing to cash in on the fact that “le burger” is now the favourite dish of the French when they eat out.

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