Although a similar ban has already been in place in Spain, trade rules for most of the products marketed in Europe fall within the EU competence, under the so-called common market organisations (CMOs).
As a crucial market tool, food labelling has been regulated by EU laws since the early 1990s.
In 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) also laid down a new principle in the EU law, ruling that only products with ‘real’ milk inside can be marketed using the term milk, butter and yoghurt.
Contacted by EURACTIV.com, a Commission source confirmed that the French government has already notified Brussels of these amendments in their food labelling legislation.
The EU executive is now analysing them but has no further comment at this stage, the source added.
In its negotiating position on the post-2020 CMO for agriculture products, the European Parliament wants to reserve meat-related terms “exclusively for edible parts of the animals.”
There is much more than a mere legal issue behind a name, as it concerns the type of information to give the consumers.
Most consumers do not appear particularly concerned about the naming of veggie burgers, as long as they are clearly labelled as vegetarian or vegan, according to a recent survey from the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC),
Only one in five respondents think the use of meat-related names should never be allowed on vegetarian or vegan products, whilst 26.2% of them have no problem at all with using such terms.
The image of the gullible consumer unable to tell a meat-based food product from a plant-based one is paternalistic at best and an insult at worst, the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) wrote in a note commenting on the French law.
And the controversy over names for new veg-products does not end here.
A court ruling has recently forbidden food giant Nestlé from selling its plant-based burger under the “Incredible” burger name because of the strong visual and phonetic resemblance to the EU trademark of the US company Impossible food.
A Nestlé spokesperson told EURACTIV that they will abide by this decision but will be filing an appeal in parallel, as it is their belief that anyone should be able to use descriptive terms such as ‘incredible’ that explain the qualities of a product.