Legal ruling over Swiss vegan meat company labelling practices could ‘set a precedent’ in Europe, says lawyer

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  16th February 2023

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Planted Foods, a Swiss company making plant-based products, is currently wrangling over whether it can use meaty names for its vegan goods


The legal ruling over whether a Swiss vegan food company can use meaty names for its products could set a legal precedent in Europe, according to a lawyer.

Planted Foods, which makes animal-free versions of foods including vegan chicken and pork, is currently waiting for Switzerland’s highest court to decide whether vegan manufacturers can continue to use these nomenclatures for their goods.

Fabio Versolatto, an intellectual property lawyer at Rentsch Partner in Zurich, told news outlet that the decision, which is expected by the end of the year, will give producers more clarity.

He said: “The law is very abstract and general. The products are not regulated in detail…The Federal Court decision will set a precedent and give more certainty to Swiss companies producing plant-based alternative.”

Planted Foods labelling battle

Planted Foods was told to stop using meaty nomenclature in May 2021 by the Zurich Cantonal Laboratory, an organisation which aims to regulate food and water safety.

Last year, the Zurich administrative court ruled that it was not deceptive for Planted Foods to use such terms in its labelling.

According to the administrative court, the presentation of the food packaging, which boasts a ‘V’ symbol denoting that the items are vegan, means that the use of animal names isn’t confusing to customers.

But Swiss authorities refused to accept this ruling, and so the case is now moving to Switzerland’s highest legal authority, the federal court. If the court rules against Planted Foods, this could make the country the first in Europe to ban meaty names on plant-based products.


Confusion over labelling?

Looking at polling around consumer understanding around using traditional animal food names on vegan products suggests that shoppers are not confused by this nomenclature.

According to a poll commissioned by Planted Foods which quizzed 777 people in July 2021, some 93 per cent of those surveyed recognised that ‘Planted Chicken’ is a meat-free product.

And global food awareness organisation, ProVeg International has also conducted polling on the topic in 2022.

When asking whether consumers are confused by plant-based products that mimic meat, and have meaty names – for example, ‘nuggets’, ProVeg said only 3.6 per cent of respondents had previously chosen a plant-based product referring to ‘nuggets’ by accident, while 96.4 per cent chose the product consciously.

And, it added, more than 80 per cent of the people it polled said it is obvious that products labelled as ‘vegan’, ‘vegetarian’ and ‘plant-based’ do not contain meat.

Featured image credit: Ekaterina Grigoreva via Getty Images. Featured image created by Vegan Food & Living.

Navigating food labels can be tricky sometimes – check out our vegan’s guide to reading food labels

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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