France combat against “reheat and serve” food in restaurants with campaign to cook from scratch.

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France combat against “reheat and serve” food in restaurants with campaign to cook from scratch.

Sitting down at a picturesque restaurant only to discover that the “authentic” cuisine is in fact a reheated vacuum-packed or frozen mass produced dish is far from ideal. Visitors to these restaurants have vented their discontent in their guest reviews and France is paying attention. Gastronomy is not only part of the proud French heritage but also a multi-million euro industry and a major draw for tourism and driver of exports in its own right. So it is in earnest that French authorities aim to straighten out any trend that may damage their reputation.

So how do you know if the meal you are about to be served is made fresh or just an outsourced ready-made? Under a recent consumer protection law titled, “Public decree No. 2014-797,” restaurants in France will display a symbol to indicate that dishes are “homemade.” At a preliminary stage the system would be optional, but after January 1, 2015 it is mandatory.

Les Crayeres ©Sylvia Davis

©Sylvia Edwards Davis

The logo –a roof above a saucepan– serves to identify those dishes in the menu that have been prepared on the premises. This distinction is meant to give an edge to those kitchens that make the effort to produce quality dishes in a traditional way.

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Restaurants are still allowed to use some practical and reasonable shortcuts, such as ready made puff pastry, pasta, or frozen vegetables, that still result in food that you can consider as being made “in-house”.

Have you had any experience with this new system yet? Or have you been caught by the pre-made epidemic? Does it make a difference?

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Sylvia is a freelance journalist based in France, focusing on business and culture. A member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia is a regular contributor and looks after social media across our publications.

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Comments

  • Joseph Fitzgerald
    2014-08-14 17:29:56
    Joseph Fitzgerald
    Interesting article on pre prepared and or frozen entrees in some Paris restaurants. Our upcoming visit to Paris in October, I will try and look for the new gastronomique logo when trying out new placers to dine

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  • Eat Healthy
    2014-08-02 12:11:11
    Eat Healthy
    Read this... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/opinion/french-food-goes-down.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=1

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  • Eat Healthy
    2014-08-02 11:29:55
    Eat Healthy
    With reference to 'Mom & Pop' cafe-restaurants in the French countryside the 'traditiional' formula and expectations of ex-pats AND artisans, just doesn't work. It doesn't take a numeric genius to work out, it is impossible for these overworked couples to serve up quality 4 course meals, in large quantities for 13 euros a head. Take into account their overhead costs, taxes etc; the grinding numbers of opening hours they work each week, the impossibility/risks around paying for paid help;; the haphazard numbers who regularly support and attend, and boast (on these forums) of how hospitable (read desperate) their hosts are..... and you can see how preparing foods from fresh quality ingredients falls right down the priority list. (People start realising they can eat better and healthier at home, and the whole dowwnward cycle of closure speeds up.) No, customers need to have new 'rules' of the game...... much smaller menus with limited choice; a preparedness to eat, even try, slow-cooked meats and foods to traditional peasant recipes in more reasonable portions; always giving decent notice reserving at least 48 hrs in advance and a real sense of loyalty to their local (maybe even including gifts from the garden to help along. And a conscious appreciation of REAL food, not stuff that just 'looks' right. By the way, the medium-size places in France, are perhaps the worst offenders of the lot, in buying in pre-pared dishes to heat up, like 'souris d'agneau' and white fish in 'sauces'.

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  • pedmar10
    2014-07-31 17:06:44
    pedmar10
    yes indeed.its about time they did something about it, its an industry to defend dearly. At the end we will have the really high end places doing and the mom and pop will be artificial for the tourist trap. Hopefully, this law will be enough to stop these scoundrels.

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