PARIS – Lawmakers in France approved a measure that would ban the use of “meat terms” to describe plant-based facsimiles of meats.
The regulation means that names associated with products of animal origin cannot be used to market food products containing “a significant proportion” of plant-based materials. Allowing plant-based foods to be marketed with meat-related terms such as filet, bacon or sausage, according to the bill, imposes on the consumer a “…principle of equivalence between a pure pork sausage and a vegetarian ‘sausage substitute.’”
French lawmakers added the legislation as an amendment to an agriculture bill and would apply to French producers of meat alternatives. It is not clear when the law would go into force.
Member of Parliament Jean-Baptiste Moreau introduced the measure about a week ago. Moreau tweeted in response to the approval of the legislation the importance of fighting “false allegations” about meat and that terms such as “cheese” or “steak” will be reserved for products of animal origin.
Meat industry stakeholders in the United States have launched a similar initiative aimed at labeling plant-based facsimiles of meat. In early April, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) released its “Principles for Regulating Fake Meat” in response to products such as the Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger.
“It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” Kevin Kester, president of NCBA said at the time. “As long as we have a level playing field, our product will continue to be a leading protein choice for families in the United States and around the world.”
In February, the US Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) petitioned the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the US Dept. of Agriculture to implement labeling requirements that would exclude products not derived from animals from the definition of “beef” and “meat,” and limit the broader definition of “meat” to animal flesh or tissues harvested in a traditional manner.
The issue of plant-based alternatives being marketed under terms used to describe meat also has caught the attention of Missouri lawmakers. HB 2607, sponsored by State Rep. Jeff Knight would prohibit misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from livestock or poultry. Sen. Sandy Crawford introduced an identical bill (SB 977) in the Missouri state senate.
The meat industry is watching closely the rapid-fire growth of — and investment dollars supporting — plant-based meat alternatives such as the Impossible Burger and Beyond Foods’ Beyond Meat products which blur the lines between plant and animal proteins.
El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat claims the company’s Beyond Burger looks, cooks and tastes like hamburger. The company also produces plant-based alternatives to meatballs, chicken strips and tenders, beef crumbles and burger patties that are sold in the meat case alongside traditional animal proteins.
Foodservice demand has driven growth of the Impossible Burger, the product of Impossible Foods Inc., which has a stated mission to replace animals as a food source by 2035. The Impossible Burger is made with plant-based ingredients, including soy leghemoglobin, a protein that carries the iron-containing molecule heme, which occurs naturally in animals and plants. Soy leghemoglobin delivers a meaty flavor without cholesterol, hormones or antibiotics. Other ingredients in the Impossible Burger are water, wheat protein, coconut oil and potato protein along with natural flavors and micronutrients.