Dairy lobby fails to convince EU to censor dairy-free labels

This week, the European Union (EU) rejected Amendment 171, a bill that would expand existing restrictions on conditions related to dairy products. Terms such as ‘almond milk’ and ‘vegan cheese’ are already banned on products in the EU, but 171 would further restrict dairy alternatives to the use of descriptive terms such as ‘yogurt style’ and ‘alternative to milk’. cheese”. The bill would also have banned the use of “milky” images such as swirls on a carton of oat milk and any other visual or statement it deemed to be evoked or imitated of dairy products. Even useful information about allergens – such as “does not contain milk” – would be banned for herbal products if 171 were to pass.

The move comes after a petition launched by food awareness organization ProVeg International against restrictive legislation garnered 456,000 signatures. “It’s a common sense victory. Citizens, industry and experts spoke up and the EU listened, ”said Jasmijn de Boo, Vice-President of ProVeg International. “It would be absurd to censor herbal products at the same time as telling consumers to switch to a plant-based diet. Imagine censoring electric cars or recycled paper. We commend the EU for its foresight under immense pressure from ecologically irresponsible interests. ”

Broad support for dairy products of plant origin

The action to stop 171 included support from vegan climate change activist Greta Thunberg, 21 leading NGOs such as Greenpeace and WWF, 94 food companies such as parent company Violife Upfield, Oatly and Nestle, and many others.

“As a founding member of the European Alliance for Plant-Based Foods, tackling anti-competitive legislation has always been our priority. For the past several months Upfield has been a vocal opponent of Amendment 171 and today’s decision to defeat it is a victory for the plant-based food industry and for all those who signed the petition for pledge their support, ”Jeanette Fielding, PhD, Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Upfield, said. “But the battle is not won. Justice for consumers and for our planet will only be achieved when plant-based foods are treated fairly compared to foods of animal origin under the law. “

Amendment 171 was part of a larger agricultural package that included Amendment 165, a bill supported by the EU meat lobby that sought to ban terms such as’ burgers’ and ‘ sausages’ on products that do not contain animal meat. Instead, the proposed terms to describe hamburgers and plant-based sausages were “discs” and “tubes”. In August 2020, EU MPs voted to reject Amendment 165 after receiving a similar rejection from companies such as IKEA, Beyond Meat and Unilever, who said the proposed measure was “Disproportionate and out of step with the current climate”.

Labeling wars without dairy products

In the United States, a similar battle has been waged against producers of dairy-free products by those with interests in the dairy industry. The so-called Dairy Pride Act has been circulating in Congress for several years. The legislation aims to limit the terms that plant-based products can use, claiming that the use of the word “milk” on dairy-free products – even with recognizable qualifiers – is misleading for consumers. Versions of this federal bill have gone to state courts, mostly receiving opposition, including in Virginia, where Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed House Bill 119 in 2020, expressing concern by the fact that the bill was “unconstitutional and could violate the freedom of commercial expression”.VegNews.MiyokosButter

Last year, vegan brand Miyoko’s Creamery clinched a victory over the dairy-producing state of California. Miyoko’s Creamery – which makes dairy-free products such as vegan butter and cashew-based cheese – filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) after the agency asked the brand to remove certain terms such as “dairy” and “butter”. of its packaging, despite the company’s clear labeling that the products are “vegan” and “made with plants”. The CDFA also demanded that Miyoko stop using the term ‘cruelty-free’ to describe her vegan butter and asked the brand to remove from its website an image of a woman hugging a cow – a photo taken at Rancho Compasión , a farm animal. shrine founded by vegan brand owner Miyoko Schinner and her husband.

In August 2020, United States District Court Judge Richard Seeborg granted the vegan society a special court order to prevent the state of California from executing its demands, explaining that the use of “butter By Miyoko was entitled to First Amendment protection.

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