[imagesource: Facebook / The Fry Family Food Co.]
Ever suffered the horror of buying meatballs or sausages or biltong, only to get home and find out they’re actually vegan or vegetarian versions of the meaty treats?
Probably not, because you’re not a moron and you can clearly see the word ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-based’ on the packaging.
Our government has very little faith in how perceptive we are, though, and recently banned plant-based foods from being called names synonymous with meat products for fear of shoppers being misled.
The basics via Business Insider SA:
The order, issued by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) was due to see “vegan biltong”, “plant-based meatballs”, and “chorizo and red pepper vegetarian sausages”, among others, removed from shelves.
The DALRRD, in late June, reaffirmed that “meat analogues must not use the product names prescribed and reserved for processed meat products”, adding that these plant-based products were in violation of regulations promulgated in 2019.
This was all meant to come to a head yesterday, with the department warning ahead of time that the Food Safety Agency was empowered to seize all plant-based products with meaty names from Monday.
Let’s just reiterate how clearly these products are labelled using two examples from Fry’s:
If you take that home in your basket thinking it’s meat, it’s on you, pal.
With the clock ticking, the Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) obtained a temporary interdict against seizures on Friday:
The interdict halts the forceable removal of products from shelves at least until a court can decide on the merits of arguments from producers and retailers that the government’s stance is illogical, and harmful to consumers.
The South African Vegan Society (SAVS) said government’s ban “will have catastrophic consequences on many stakeholders, namely, producers of plant-based food products, retailers, and consumers.”
Over the past few weeks, Fry’s has been taking the piss on its Facebook page, calling out the silliness of not being able to reference what its products are substituting.
A “Chicken-Style Strip that doesn’t want to be stripped of its identity” and a “round, flat, juicy bite of controversy recently spotted between two buns” are two standouts.
Then, after the news broke, the company couldn’t help but stick the knife in:
That YouTube link directs to a song I’m sure you’ll recognise:
You hear that, DALRRD? You can’t touch this.
For now – bear in mind it was only a temporary interdict.
Speaking to CapeTalk, Donovan Will, country director at ProVeg South Africa, said the whole argument is nonsensical:
“No one is confused, no one is being misled. Nobody is pretending that the stuff is chicken or is beef.
It’s very difficult to label something, an alternative to something, if you can’t reference what it’s an alternative to.”
Again, does our government really think we are so dof that we can’t assume responsibility for telling the difference between these products?
I know we’ve kept the ANC in power for 28 years and counting, which must cause constant echoes of laughter through Luthuli House, but please give us some credit.
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