The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) in South Africa looks set to ban using meat-related words in plant-based product names.

Product names such as vegan veggie biltong, plant-based meatballs, vegan nuggets, and plant-based bratwurst are among those to get the chop as they do not meet the definition of processed meat in that country.

It is understood that the DALRRD has written to processors, retailers and importers of these such products, informing them of the decision and of the product names affected.

The department stated that words like ‘nuggets’, ‘ribs’ and ‘biltong’ are reserved for processed meat products only and cannot be used for plant-based ones. It has instructed the Food Safety Agency that any plant-based products using names that traditionally refer to animal-based products must be taken off the shelves.

‘Exactly what we don’t need’

The move has been criticised by country director at ProVeg South Africa, Donovan Will, who said regulations such as this one is “exactly what we don’t need when the world’s scientists are telling us we urgently need to reduce our meat consumption to help brake dangerous global warming”.

“The regulation also disrespects consumers. 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,” he said.

ProVeg International
ProVeg is an international food-awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives. ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.

A veggie burger-ban was proposed by the meat industry in Europe in 2019 but was defeated in the European Parliament in 2020 after a sustained campaign by ProVeg International, and other groups.

The names of meat alternative products cited in the document, addressed to processors, importers and retailers of meat analogues include:

  • Vegan/veggie biltong
  • Mushroom biltong
  • Plant-based meatballs
  • Vegan nuggets
  • Vegan BBQ ribs
  • Plant-based bratwurst
  • Chorizo and red pepper vegetarian sausages
  • Plant-based chicken-style strips