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France's top court halts ban on 'meaty' names for plant-based foods

April 15, 2024

France's highest administrative court, the Conseil d'État, has suspended a government decree that would have prohibited using terms like 'steak' and 'sausage' for plant-based alternatives. The ban, scheduled to take effect in May 2024, was challenged by plant-based food producers who argued it would be unfair and disruptive.

This marks the second time the Conseil d'État has blocked such a ban. Concerns about the legality and practicality of the decree were raised by the court, including its vague wording and the short timeframe for implementation. Additionally, the court acknowledged the potential financial harm to plant-based producers who would have had to redesign packaging and marketing materials.

The proposed ban was supported by the French meat industry, which seeks to protect its market share. However, the Conseil d'État noted that the decree would only apply to French-produced plant-based foods, giving foreign competitors an unfair advantage.

The legality of the ban now rests with the European Court of Justice, which will provide guidance on the matter. Until then, plant-based food producers can continue using terms like 'steak' and 'sausage' to describe their products in France.

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