Alt-meat labels remain, for now

The fight to prevent South African suppliers of alternative or plant-based meat products from calling them anything relating to meat is on hold for the moment.

The Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGSA) obtained a temporary interdict to halt the government’s planned seizure of any meat-free goods on retail shelves labelled as meat, burgers, sausages, nuggets or other references to the real thing.

Producers of alternative or vegan “meat” products had complained firstly that the ban was unwarranted and illogical, and secondly that removing and relabelling huge amounts of their products would result in massive losses.

Meat producers complain that current labels are confusing to consumers, and must be changed.

The interdict is temporary, imposed to give a court time to consider the arguments. As is happening in many countries, plant-based “meat” products are becoming increasingly popular, with multiple products on retail shelves.

The best outcome would be for the two sides to agree on labels acceptable to both sides. That is not yet in prospect, according to a lengthy report on the dispute in the Daily Maverick.