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Vegetarians take beef over French food labelling law to Brussels

A vegetarian lobby group has headed to Brussels in an attempt to take France's new food labelling law — which prohibits the use of terms like "burger" and "sausage" when describing meat alternatives — off the menu.

The European Vegetarian Union (EVU) said France had "privileged meat over reason".

It filed a complaint against the law arguing if meat alternatives are described accurately — like in the label "vegan soya sausage" — there was little room for confusion.

"The image of the gullible consumer unable to discern a meat-based food product from a plant-based one – even if plainly distinguished by the product name – is paternalistic at best and an insult at worse," it said.

The law was initially tabled as an amendment to an agriculture bill by a French MPJean Baptiste Moreau, a farmer, and saw food producers banned from using meat terms to describe products that are not partly or completely made of meat.

Moreau argued that it was "important to combat false claims" and that "the terms cheese or steak should be reserved for products of animal origin".

Failure to comply with the law could lead to a fine of €300,000.

"There is no evidence that there is a consumer confusion issue," `Ronja Berthold, head of public affairs at EVU told Dailyrater.

She argued that on a nutritional level, between the compositions of many alternatives and meat the "micronutrients are not that different" and in some cases, the vegetarian or vegan options are "more favourable".

Berthold added that hers was not the only group to have lobbied against the law in Brussels — the Humane Society International also wrote a letter to the Commission.

"We have not given up, the fight is still ongoing," she said, adding her organisation was looking into further action with other NGOs.

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