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French government says vegetarian companies cannot use 'steak' and other names of meat on product labels

Companies that sell vegetarian, meat-alternative products can no longer use the name of the certain meats on their labels, the French government ordered Tuesday.

Companies in France that sell vegetarian, meat-alternative products will now have to remove the name of meat from their labels to avoid confusion, according to a new government order.

The French government issued a decree on Tuesday that bans meat-free products from using meat terms such as "steak," "ham," "filet," "prime rib," among others, as the government said the terms were reserved for meat products, AFP reported.

The decision comes amid a feud between the meat and vegetarian industries, who are attempting to offer consumers meat-like alternatives while curbing the use of actual meat. However, the government has said terms such as "vegetarian ham" or "vegan sausage" can cause confusion about what is actually inside the product being sold.

According to the report, individuals caught violating the new labeling law face a fine of up to $1,630, or just over $8,000 for companies.

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The decree gives producers one year to sell their existing stock before any penalties are applied, AFP reported.

Meat products that contain a small amount of plant-based content, which are sold and marketed as meats, can continue to use meaty names, per the decree.

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The decree is the latest chapter in a feud between the meat and vegetarian industries, which has seen both sides score legal victories in recent years.

In 2020, the government enacted a similar law that included a blanket ban on meat words without a comprehensive or exhaustive list. Its enforcement was temporarily suspended in June 2022 by the Conseil d'√Čtat, the state council that acts as a legal advisor and the final arbiter of administrative matters.

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The suspension was prompted by a complaint from Proteines France, which represents French companies selling plant-based food, AFP reported.

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