South African High Court Ruling Keeps Plant-Based Products on the Shelves

A new ruling by the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg has overturned an interim decision in order to prevent the seizure of plant-based meat alternatives from South African retail shelves. The High Court ruling ensures that these products are permanently available to South African consumers despite ongoing disputes on labelling practices.

Over the past two years, controversy has been a source of contention for supermarkets as the South African government sought to ban the use of certain product names for plant-based meat alternatives on the basis that they were too similar to the names of processed meat products, supposedly misleading shoppers.

The South African Food Safety Agency (SA FSA) was intent upon seizing plant-based “meat products” from the shelves of retailers around the country. The SA FSA had sought to prohibit the use of certain generic product names for plant-derived “meat products” which had similar names traditionally applied to processed meat products (such as “nugget”, “burger”, “patty” and “sausage”) and was intent upon seizing any plant-based products whic made use of these titles or classifications.

This disagreement over food product nomenclature is not unique to South Africa and, as we have noted before at Advanced Food Regulation, the issue is currently being tabled in the global food industry – notably in France, Italy and Spain, as lobbyists for traditional meat and other animal products mount their resistance to the steadily growing market of the plant-based sector while more consumers adopt plant-rich and flexitarian diets.

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