Our Food Law Specialists Review the French Supreme Court Ruling

Advanced Food Regulation see this as a Setback for French Government which Supports Terminology for Plant-Based Meat.

After five years of legal battle, the French Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Nutrition & Santé Group, which had been accused by the meat lobby Interbev (Association Nationale Interprofessionnelle du Bétail et des Viandes) of unfair competition and misleading plant-based meat labels.

The court confirmed that a risk of confusion between “steak” and “veggie steak” had not been established. In the court’s view, consumers can distinguish between the different categories if the packaging and advertisements “clearly” indicate that the product is plant-based.

Against plant-based meat

This ruling favoring plant-based meat is a significant setback for the French government, which recently renewed proposals to prohibit more than 21 meat names, including “steak” and “ham” on labels of alternative products. The country’s highest administrative, the French Conseil d’Etat, is awaiting the European Court of Justice’s opinion to clarify if such a move is compatible with EU law.

If the ban passes, operators will have three months to adjust their labeling and will be allowed to sell products with labels printed before the decree’s implementation for up to one year after publication.

France was the first country in the EU to take measures against plant-based meat labels and tried to pass a decree in 2022 backed by the country’s meat industry and farming lobby. But the move was suspended by the Conseil d’Etat a month later.

If you have been effected by this development contact the New Foods Regulatory Advisory Team at Advanced Food Regulation for assistance.