Vegan … changes

21 April 2021

New, stricter rules are under consideration this week by the European Union institutions as part of an assessment of Amendment 171 which places restrictions on vegan companies on the use of terms such as “dairy”, “yogurt dessert” or “does not contain milk “or pictures on packaging reminiscent of dairy products, such as yogurt cans or milk cartons, which refer to purely dairy products. According to the European Union, plant-based dairy alternatives, commonly referred to as ‘almond milk’ or ‘vegetarian cheese’, may not be marketed as such. In 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled that the terms dairy products, including milk, cheese, butter and yogurt, could only refer to animal products and not to plant alternatives. Amendment 171 now aims to increase these restrictions and make it illegal to compare plant foods with dairy products.
In particular, the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council of Ministers are taking part in tripartite negotiations, which will address issues under the Common Organization of Agricultural Markets (CMO). The Amendment 171 has not been submitted to the standard public audit process through its impact assessment or open consultation, with the result that consumers and the plant-based industry want their own position to be heard, as the plant-based food sector will be disproportionately affected. by that Regulation.
In fact, plant-based dairy companies such as Oatly, Upfield and the NGO ProVeg International are leading a campaign to overturn proposed new EU rules, which they say could have dire consequences for vegan food companies. In addition, they argue that the ban runs counter to the EU’s stated objectives of improving public health and environmental sustainability.

Dairy products
What exactly does amendment 171 mean for almond milk, tofu cheese, soy yogurt, vegan butter and other vegetable, dairy alternatives that are steadily entering the mainstream? The new rules will ban the “imitation” of dairy products. In general, descriptions such as “creamy”, “cheese-alternative”, “milk-free” and “milk-free” would be illegal if the amendment were adopted by the European institutions and became law. At the extreme point, the rule may even require redesigning packages, as milk cartons and yogurt cups are commonly associated with dairy products. Vegan producers will also not be able to discuss the health or environmental benefits of their plant products by comparing them to traditional dairy products.

Two opinions

Of course, it is not just the plant-based industry that opposes further restrictions. Amendment 171 has been widely criticized by many. Consumers, NGOs including WWF and Greenpeace, dairy representatives, European organizations have called for the amendment to be rejected, as there is no real reason to implement such legislation. Due to the high carbon footprint in animal products, studies have found that consuming a vegan diet is the best thing they can do for the planet. “Given the climate crisis, it is irresponsible to try to prevent us from encouraging people to make the transition to plants and help protect the planet,” Cecilia McAleavey, director of public affairs and sustainable nutrition, told Food Navigator. Swedish oat milk brand. For its part, the dairy industry claims that amendment 171 avoids consumer confusion, as the use of dairy-related terminology in plant products could mislead consumers. They are either dairy or not, say executives of the European Dairy Products Union. However, the vegan-alternative sector argues that its products should be evaluated against conventional dairy products for its health and environmental benefits. In a report, Politico argues that the widespread application of amendment 171 could indeed censor essential information for consumers suffering from dairy allergies and intolerances. Prohibition of terms such as “no milk” and “milk alternative” and changes to packaging could confuse consumers if, for example, plant-based cheese can no longer be sold in packaging and with the expected description. of.