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Vegan plant based meat is now safe on South Africa shelves in the latest setback to SA govt

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Plant-based burgers, sausages, nuggets, and mince should be banned, says South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.
Products found to be using names reserved for processed meats were due to be seized from shelves in August.
But a last-minute interim interdict halted the Food Safety Agency from stripping stores of meat analogues.
Now, the interdict granted by the Johannesburg High Court has been extended to 8 May 2023.

Plant-based foods with meaty names will not be seized from shelves across South Africa until at least mid-May 2023, despite government’s concerted efforts to outlaw products like vegetarian burgers and vegan biltong.

Meat analogues – foods designed to mimic the appearance, flavour, and texture of meat products – are under the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s (DALRRD) microscope. The DALRRD wants plant-based burgers, sausages, nuggets, and mince removed from shelves, arguing that these products are, illegally, using names reserved for processed meats.

The DALRRD’s move to ban these plant-based foods has been met with fierce resistance by South African producers and consumers. This battle intensified in August, when, on instruction from the DALRRD, South Africa’s Food Safety Agency was scheduled to start stripping shelves of meat analogues.

A last-minute interim interdict granted by the Johannesburg High Court on 19 August halted the Food Safety Agency from seizing these plant-based products. On Thursday, the court extended the interim interdict to 8 May 2023.

“The implication of the extension is that the Department and the FSA remain prohibited from seizing any meat analogue products,” said ProVeg South Africa, a food awareness group leading the fight for plant-based foods to remain on shelves, on Thursday.

“We welcome the extension of the interdict as we continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders to work together to formulate regulations applicable to meat analogue products. This is imperative to ensure regulatory certainty in the plant-based sector.”

The extension serves as yet another setback to government’s push to ban certain plant-based foods in a battle which has seen meat analogue producers and supporters poking fun at the DALRRD’s failed attempts.

In an act of “rebellion”, ProVeg South Africa cooked more than 1,200 plant-based burgers during a Heritage Day braai in September. Several brands, including Infinite Foods, Fry’s, Woolworths, Urban Vegan, Outcast Foods, Veggiewors, and B-well were involved in setting a new, unofficial world record for the largest vegan braai.

South Africa’s leading plant-based food producer, Fry Family Food, better known simply as Fry’s, has also continued a social media campaign, citing its products as “Unidentified Frying Objects” or UFOs.

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