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French Restaurants to Label Dishes Made In-House

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Restaurants in France will soon be able to add a government-sanctioned logo next to menu items that are made in-house. According to the decree below from the French government (translated), the label, called "fait maison," will go into effect tomorrow. RFI notes that the French Parliament approved the measure to "reign in on the amount of processed foods used and to preserve France's high gastronomical standing."

Restaurants can label dishes as "homemade" even if the raw products — except for potatoes — have been "frozen, refrigerated, cut up, ground, smoked, or peeled" by the time it is delivered to the restaurant. Consumer Affairs Minister Carole Delga tells the AFP that spuds are the exception because many fast food restaurants use frozen potatoes to make French fries. Already made items like pasta, bread, cheese, and wine can also be used in "homemade" dishes.

Many in the French foodservice industry have been quick to point out flaws in the new law. According to the Guardian, a spokesperson for the hoteliers' industry union says that with the logo, "the professionals' work won't be recognised. A tomato salad which comes ready sliced in a pack will get the home-cooked label." Others have complained that to meet the requirements, they will have to hire more staff to peel potatoes that they previously bought peeled and frozen. French food critic JP Géné points out in Le Monde (translated) that the many exceptions to the rule undermines "one of the central goals of the reform."

This is not the first time France has toyed with the idea of labels to save its culinary reputation. A law was proposed last year that would prevent any establishment that sold "frozen or vacuum-packed" from being called a restaurant. Last April, Chef Alain Ducasse and the 15-person College Culinaire de France also launched a "quality restaurant" seal of approval to fight "sliding standards." The restaurants that feature the seal "provide information on the origins of their products, prepare their own food and offer a warm welcome." And back in 2012, chef Xavier Denamur called for the introduction of two labels: "industrial food," and "cuisine maison" for food made in-house. See a photo of the logo and the decree below:

Fait Maison

[Courtesy of Journal Officiel De La République Française]

· France to Label 'Homemade' Dishes in Restaurants [RFI]
· France Moves Against Substandard Restaurant Food [AFP]
· New 'Homemade' Logo Cooks Up Confusion [Guardian]
· Fait Maison, Décret Bidon [Le Monde]
· All France Coverage on Eater [-E-]