According to apparent new legislation; words such as “veggie biltong”, “plant-based meatballs” and “vegan nuggets” will now be banned in South Africa because they do not meet the definition of “processed meat” under the country’s regulations.
Other plant-based meat alternative products are noted to include:
- Chorizo and red pepper vegetarian sausages
- Mushroom biltong
- Plant-based bratwurst
- Plant-based chicken-style strips
- Vegan BBQ ribs
This news comes after the South African Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) decided to impose a ban on “meaty” names for plant-based meat alternatives.
DALRRD instructed “All processors, importers and retailers of meat analogues” that they may not use “names prescribed and reserved for processed meat products” in terms of the Agricultural Product Standards Act 199 of 1990 (“the APS Act”).
The Food Safety Agency (inspectors of processed meat products) have been advised to seize and remove any plant-based products using names that traditionally refer to animal-based products.
Further to this, supermarket giant, Woolworths, was told that its plant-based egg substitute “Just Egg” could not be sold as “eggs” because it does not come from domestic fowl, and is therefore regarded as “misleading”. The Food Safety Agency has given Woolworths a week (7 days) to rectify its supposed non-conformance.
The meat and egg industries may be claiming a monopoly on the terms “meat” and “egg” and any related terminology. But, surely plant-based options; which effectively mimic the taste, texture, and function of the products they replace; should also be able to use these terms?
As these products do not claim to be meat sourced from an animal, and are specifically marketed as alternatives to meat, ProVeg believes that the terminology is not misleading if products are clearly labelled as “meat-free”, “vegan”, or “vegetarian”. It believes that banning the use of meat or egg-related terms might actually cause more confusion for customers who have grown to enjoy or possibly rely on these alternatives.
“The regulation disrespects consumers,” Donovan Will, Country Director at ProVeg South Africa said. “There is no evidence to show that people are confused by meaty names for plant-based foods. In fact, evidence from Australia, Europe and the US prove they are not confused.”
“When the world’s scientists are telling us we urgently need to reduce our meat consumption to help brake dangerous global warming,” Will states, “Regulation such as this is exactly what we don’t need.”
In 2019, the European meat industry proposed a similar restriction on plant-based products, referred to as the “veggie burger ban”. However, after a sustained campaign by ProVeg International and others, this restriction was was defeated in parliament in 2020.
Although there have been seemingly no attacks to plant-based dairy alternatives in South Africa as yet, ProVeg believes that if it does happen it could leave thousands of lactose-intolerant South Africans even more confused.
ProVeg claims that switching to a plant-based diet could reduce an individual’s food-related emissions by up to 50%.
To stay within the 1.5 Celsius global warming limit set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report confirmed that the world may need to shift to a more plant-based diet.
Unfortunately, the innovative plant-based sector which could potentially help South Africans mitigate their carbon footprint, may now be majorly disrupted.
“We really urge the government to overturn this regulation” Will says, as he believes “This is a huge step backwards in the Government’s fight against climate change.”
Information supplied by ProVeg
Words and featured image by Amanda Bussio
In-text image by Thought Catalog