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France May Regulate What Is Considered a 'Restaurant'

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[Photos: zoetnet / Flickr]

French restaurants serving ready-made food could lose the right to call themselves "restaurants." A proposed law would prevent "low-grade eateries" that don't make dishes from scratch from messing up the country's reputation for good food, reports the Telegraph. Owners that don't adhere to the criteria would also lose the ability to call themselves "restaurateurs." The draft is backed by 30 MPs and French restaurant trade union Synhorcat. But they don't quite intend to ban all prepared foods.

Exceptions will be made for certain pre-made foods, like charcuterie, bread and ice creams. Sous-vide dishes seem to have made the cut as well: Didier Chenet, Synhorcat's president, told TF1 television last week that "they're not that old-fashioned," and that restaurants could still call themselves "restaurants" if they served food that had been "frozen or vacuum-packed."

But GlobalPost says the proposal is making some people unhappy, specifically the UMIH, France's main association of restaurant owners. They say the proposal would "create complete confusion with the public, clients and especially foreign tourists," and that it would have "drastic consequences in terms of employment, especially for youth." About a quarter of France's restaurant workers are under 25.

According to RFI, those behind the proposal hope it will repeat the success of a 1995 law which only allowed establishments that prepared bread and pastries from scratch to use the term "boulangerie." RFI also points out that this proposed law follows in the steps of the newly launched "quality restaurant" label created this past April by the Collège Culinaire de France, a 15-member industry group that includes chefs Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy.

· Fresh take on 'restaurant' in France [Telegraph]
· French move to ban industrial food from 'restaurants' [GlobalPost]
· Possible ban on factory food in French restaurants [RFI]
· All France Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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