The Johannesburg High Court has overturned the South African government’s decision to seize all plant-based meat alternatives from the shelves, a ruling that allows “meaty” names like sausage, burger and steak to be on used faux-meat products.

In 2022, South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) moved to ban the use of the word “meat” and other words referring to products of animal origin, such as “sausage” or “steak”, from being used to market meat-alternative items.

Two months later, the alt-meat industry won a court reprieve from plans to seize the items, pending the full hearing of an appeal.

In 2023, the Johannesburg High Court then prohibited the ban on the use of the terms and the seizure of products indefinitely but only while a review was conducted into the government’s plans.

The court’s fresh ruling, issued last week, was welcomed by Donovan Will, director of the South African office of NGO ProVeg.

“We hope that this latest development encourages DALRRD to meet with stakeholders in the plant-based space to discuss the issue further,” Will told Just Food.

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“Regulating a new industry can be complicated and challenging, particularly as it slots into the food and agriculture sector but, given the undeniable benefits, ProVeg sees this as an opportunity to leverage our international expertise and work with businesses and the government to ensure a successful and sensible regulation of these products and grow the industry as a bedrock for healthier alternatives and a job provider.”

According to ProVeg, alt-meat manufacturers are still not allowed to name plant-based alternatives “biltong” (a venison-based beef jerky) nor “boerewors” (a type of sausage that originated in South Africa).

The NGO said the word “meat” is allowed to be used as long as it is clear the product is a meat analog and plant-based.

ProVeg added the High Court’s ruling could still be contested by the DALRRD but said “there is no sign” that would happen.