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Home made or factory made? The new French paradox

By Thierry Poupard 

This article was aimed to inform English speaking restaurateurs and people who are interested in restaurants either as professional or tourists. It has been published on ehotelier.com July 17


Is it home made or not home made? That is the question. As of July 15, a new law requires all restaurants in France must inform the consumer about what she/he may expect in her/his plate: is it “fait maison” (home made) or does it come from a factory?

The original idea was to differentiate real cooks from heaters (as we call them over here) and, as many restaurateurs wished, to differentiate fresh product cuisine from processed, frozen, vacuumed-packed dishes. Alas it turns out to be more confusing than before.

All restaurateurs can use the bran new logo (a house roof over a pan) as long as they meet the rules, but if one dish doesn’t, then all others must be individually marked “fait maison”. For those of you who are interested and read French the text from the Government is here: legifrance.gouv.fr


Regarding to the law, a crude (or raw) product is a food product that has not undergone any significant changes including heating, pickling, assembling or a combination of these methods. Thus a homemade dish may include products that have been delivered to the restaurant from any plant or food-processing factory as long as the product brand or the name of the supplier is expressly mentioned. In other words, the cassoulet made by the industrial company X is considered as homemade.

In addition, professionals must make it visible to all consumers the following statement: “Homemade dishes are produced on site from raw (or crude) products.” Good luck to foreigners and even French customers who will try to understand what this information on the new menus stands for and good luck to waitresses and waiters to explain what that means.

Last but not least: in order to pretend to be homemade vegetables that are used can be peeled, sliced, cut, chopped, cleaned, boned, skinned, milled or ground, smoked, salted, chilled, frozen, or vacuum-packed. Amazingly, all vegetable are concerned with the noticeable exception of potatoes, which makes this look like an anti McDonald’s law, very close to the recent anti Amazon law. French officials like very much legislating against rather than pro…

There are about 150 000 to 200 000 restaurants in France (sources are not reliable), there are many labels of all kinds but so few are popular among the professionals and almost none of them are known by the consumers. This “fait maison” will not help clarify this new French paradox.


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