Up beet: Plant-based food group Fry’s wins appeal against government clampdown

SA’s largest plant-based food producer, Fry’s, has won its appeal against a government directive claiming six of its meat alternative products did not comply with processed meat regulations.

The company has also said that an appeal board established by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) also recommended that the state create regulations that specifically cover the meat analogue industry.

“This victory for Fry’s is a substantial one for the plant-based food industry and will play a critical role in helping the relevant stakeholders move forward with discussions that will hopefully lead to the development of regulations specifically aimed at meat analogue products,” said Tammy Fry, co-founder of Fry’s and a plant-based food advocate, in a statement.

The matter in question goes back roughly a year ago when Fry’s and other plant-based food groups and retailers clashed with the DALRRD and its agency, the Food Safety Agency (FSA) over the government’s plan to seize plant-based meat analogues that carried names similar to their animal protein counterparts.

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After initially obtaining a temporary interdict against the planned seizure, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) in July managed to stave off the planned seizure of some products from its members’ supermarkets indefinitely.

Government had wanted to ban the use of certain plant names for plant-based meat alternatives on the basis that they were too similar to the names of processed meat products, which they argued could potentially confuse consumers. This meant that plant-based products with names such as “nugget” and “sausage” would have been prohibited.

Fry’s own matter with the state is separate to the action taken by the CGCSA and was dealt with by an internal appeals board set up by the department.

It related to a government directive that objected to the company’s use of meat-related names for six products, wanting Fry’s to come up with new labelling. These products included Fry’s plant-based sausages/polony; hotdogs; chicken-style nuggets; chicken-style strips; plant-based rice protein and chia nuggets; as well as thick-cut chunky strips.

Fry’s said the appeal board ruled in its favour, supporting the group’s argument that the regulations that the department and FSA were trying to impose on Fry’s products could not apply to meat analogues as they were simply “not meat products”.

Not only was Fry’s appeal upheld, but the “direction” that the government and the FSA had issued was also set aside.

Source: News24.com