EU Bans Use of "Milk" Branding for Tofu and Soy
Court rules that some plant-based products in the European Union can no longer use labels such as "butter," "milk," and "cheese."
Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that soy- and tofu-based products could no longer be promoted using terms such as “milk,” “butter,” and “cheese,”—which the court argued are reserved for products that contain animal-derived dairy. The ruling came after German company TofuTown argued that its products—such as Soyatoo Tofu Butter, Rice Spray Cream, and Veggie Cheese—did not violate EU regulations, on the grounds that they were sufficiently labeled to inform customers of their plant-based origins, which the court ruled “has no influence on that prohibition.”
The European Vegetarian Union (EVU) argued that the court’s decision was not made in an effort to protect consumers from being misled by plant-based dairy labels. “Plant-based alternatives to milk products have been on the market for many years,” EVU’s spokesperson said. “As many of them have been developed and produced specifically to resemble the ‘originals,’ they should be allowed to be marketed under similar sales denominations.” The court granted an exemption from the ban for coconut and almond milk, along with nut-based butters, which cooperating attorney for nonprofit Good Food Institute tells VegNews is absurd. “The approach of the EU is anti-competitive and paternalistic,” Barrella says. “If those exceptions are okay, then nothing is wrong with other exceptions, as a matter of logic or linguistics.”
Post-ruling, EU plant-based companies will be forced to rebrand their tofu and soy products, an action that will be enforced by local courts in member states. In the US, the Dairy Pride Act—legislation introduced last year by a group of congressmen from dairy-producing states proposing a similar ban—is still awaiting a ruling by Congress.
In local courts, the outlook for plant-based companies is positive. In May, California dismissed a lawsuit filed against Blue Diamond regarding the labeling of its Almond Breeze almond-based milk alternatives, and stated that the “claim of customer confusion is patently implausible.” In a separate case against food company WhiteWave, aimed at its Silk almond milk brand, a different California judge—Chief Justice Lawrence O’Neill—deferred the case to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in his June 6, 2017 ruling. “In the US, we have a stronger tradition of protecting free speech, including commercial speech,” Barrella asserts. “Culturally, we tend to oppose paternalistic measures by the state—particularly when it comes to absurdities like regulating language.”
Regarding the EU ruling, Barella states, “This is crony capitalism—an established, politically powerful industry squelching competition, nothing more.” Meanwhile, the plant-based milk industry continues to boom in the UK, US, and Europe, and current predictions expect the industry to reach $16.3 billion by 2018.
McDonald's Expands McVegan Burger Across Nordic Region
After a successful trial run in one Finnish location, the international chain's all-vegan burger will be available across locations in Sweden and Finland this month.
Read More »
$4 Trillion Investor Firm Warns Meat Tax is Inevitable
A group of influential investors warn colleagues that meat will soon carry a sin tax similar to tobacco, sugar, and carbon.
Read More »
Hollywood Writer Demands Vegan Dog Food at Shelters
Law & Order screenwriter hopes his proposal to feed dogs vegan kibble for optimal health is adopted by shelters across Los Angeles.
Read More »
Vegan Cheese Market to Be Worth $4 Million by 2024
Demand for dairy-free cheeses due to health and animal welfare concerns will drive substantial growth in the vegan cheese industry.
Read More »
Factory Farm Workers Routinely Denied Bathroom Breaks
Congressional watchdog group US Government Accountability Office releases a report that shows inhumane treatment of workers at factory farms across the country.
Read More »
- Vegan Ice Cream Brand Raises $4 Million to Expand
- Plant-Based Investors Unite to Form Influential Group
- Vegan Burger Brand Incentivizes Restaurants with Cash
- Tyson Increases Investment in Vegan Brand Beyond Meat
- UK Supermarket Launches Vegan Mince Pies
- Farm Sanctuary Gala Invites Attendees to Wear PJs
- What the Health Nominated for Major Film Award
- Airline Adds Vegan Menu to Meet Passengers' Demands
- VegNews Receives Award for Taking Veganism Mainstream
- Amys Kitchen Debuts New Vegan Pizza Rolls
- Top Chefs Predict Tempeh Burgers Will Trend in 2018
- Tesco Doubles Meat-Free Options for Christmas
- Instagram Creates New Feature to Fight Animal Abuse
- Field Roast Sets Vegan Rules for Acquisition
- SeaWorld Blackfish Lawsuit Now a Class Action
- Meat Mag Names Plant-Based Protein Top Trend of 2017
- James Cameron Says Animal Ag is Choking the Earth
- Startup to Make Lab-Grown Meat for Cats
- Rainn Wilson Went Vegan After Realizing Pigs are Bacon
- Pork Magazine Learns Lesson from Vegan Drive-Through