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The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development warns against the illicit use of the product names in respect of names exclusively prescribed for processed meat products

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development would like to bring to the attention of traders that Regulations Regarding the classification, packing and marking of Processed meat Products intended for Sale in the Republic of South Africa was promulgated in Government Gazette No. 42740 with R. 1283 on 4th October 2019 (“the Regulations”) and delayed for implementation with 6 months. These Regulations are published in terms of section 15 of the Agricultural Product Standards Act 119 of 1990 (“the Act”).

The purpose of the said Regulations is to, inter alia, set out norms and standards according to which compositional properties, quality standards (classification) and requirements relating to packaging and labelling of processed meat products are to be inspected against by the designated Assignee, namely Food Safety Agency (Pty) Ltd.

The ultimate objective of the Regulations is to ensure that there is fair trade practices by ensuring that producers, manufacturers, importers and sellers of processed meat products adhere to the same applicable minimum standards. “Further, that consumers are protected against the sale of substandard products or misleading products that may purport to be genuine processed meat products as to the nature, substance, quality or other properties, or the class, etc.” Essentially the purpose advanced by the Regulation is the same as the rational embedded in the empowering statute.

The Act and Regulations prohibit the use of product names prescribed for processed meat products in the sale of meat analogues. Section 6 of the Act underscores the said point by setting out a prohibition to any person not to use product names of prescribed products in connection with the sale of a meat analogue product in a manner that conveys or creates or is likely to convey or create a false or misleading impression as to the nature, substance, quality or other properties, or the class or grade of that product (in this case processed meat products).

“On the 22nd of June 2022, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development issued a communiqué that was intended to provide clarification and proper interpretation to some of the provisions of the Regulations and the Act as it relates to the sale of meat analogue products using product names prescribed for processed meat products”

Meat analogues are products also known as meat substitute, mock meat, faux meat or imitation meat. These are products that approximate the aesthetic quality (primary texture, flavour and appearance) and/or chemical characteristics of a specific type of meat.

“Considering the widespread sale of the meat analogue products that ride on the established names of processed meat products, the Department wishes to impress upon all sellers of infringing meat analogue products to relabel their products accordingly or else risk the said products being seized in terms of section 8 of the Act. The Department will have no mercy to perpetrators as it is an offence in terms of section 11 of the Act to sell meat analogue products using product names prescribed for processed meat products”

The designated Assignee will be conducting an environmental scan to determine in real terms as to how widespread the sale of meat analogue products that use product names prescribed for processed meat products is. Once such information is gathered the necessary planning towards seizure of the said products will be commenced with if they are still offered for sale in the Republic of South Africa.

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