* Law would force eateries to label homemade food
* Aims to expose those that serve ready meals in disguise
* Survey says would increase standards, but raise prices
PARIS, June 27 Thousands of French restaurants
serving up mass-produced "boeuf bourguignon" and potato "gratin"
as if lovingly prepared from scratch by their own chefs may soon
be exposed by law.
In a country that takes pride in its culinary reputation,
parliament voted for a law on Thursday that would force
restaurants to identify meals prepared on their premises with a
"homemade" label, showing that any other items are likely to
have been brought in and simply warmed up.
Any restaurant misusing the label on their menus would be
The draft law aims to expose eateries that buy ready-made
meals in bulk and heat them up in the microwave. It also
addresses concerns about food standards after a Europe-wide
scandal over horsemeat found in ready meals such as beef
The bill, that passed easily through the lower house, now
goes to the Senate which is likely to debate it in September.
It has strong backing among upper-end restaurants and
overwhelming support among the public, surveys show.
Supporters say the law could rescue French cuisine and
create jobs by nudging restaurants back towards cooking fresh
food on their own premises.
"We're making things more transparent and restoring our
trade's respectability," said Didier Chenet, head of restaurant
"Clients will know what to expect. The problem right now is
that you push the door of a restaurant and you don't know if
there's actually a chef in the kitchen," he told Reuters.
A survey by Synhorcat found that 31 percent of French
restaurants admitted to using at least some ready-made dishes.
Among those, two-thirds said that if a label forced them to
confess the practice to clients they would cook fresh produce on
their premises instead.
The switch could create around 25,000 jobs in the kitchens
of France's 120,000 restaurants but would result in a 7 percent
price hike, Synhorcat said.
(Reporting by Natalie Huet and Emile Picy; Editing by Robin