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Swiss court rules in favor of plant-based food manufacturer saying meaty names are not deceptive

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Producer Planted Foods surveyed members of the public about the use of meaty names for its products – and they said they were not confused by the usage

Swiss court has sided with a plant-based food producer in a dispute over the use of meaty names for vegan products. The Zurich Administrative Court said in a ruling that Planted Foods‘ usage of nomenclature including ‘chicken’ to describe its meat-free foods is not deceptive. Planted Foods had been told to stop using meaty nomenclature in May 2021 by the Zurich Cantonal Laboratory, an organization which aims to regulate food and water safety. The laboratory told Planted Foods that its use of animal species names in its labelling was misleading. However, 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.

Meaty names

Polls around food labelling suggest consumers are not confused by the use of meaty names to describe vegan or vegetarian products. Planted Foods itself commissioned a survey of 777 people in July 2021 to test this. Pollsters found that some 93 per cent of those surveyed recognized that ‘Planted Chicken’ is a meat-free product.

This was supported by more recent research commissioned by global food awareness organization, ProVeg International. It looked into whether consumers are confused by plant-based products that mimic meat, and have meaty names – for example, ‘nuggets’. According to ProVeg, only 3.6 per cent of respondents said they had previously chosen a plant-based product referring to ‘nuggets’ by accident, while 96.4 per cent agreed that they had chosen the product consciously. Meanwhile, over 80 per cent of those polled said it is obvious that products labelled as ‘vegan’, ‘vegetarian’ and ‘plant-based’ do not contain meat.

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