On 23 October 2020, the European Parliament discussed whether the use of dairy-like terms for merely plant-based food products (i.e. such which do not contain any dairy ingredients) should be permitted - or whether terms such as "soy milk" for non-dairy products would mislead consumers.
Interesting, while the European Parliament rejected the proposed ban for meat-like terms and allowed restaurants and shops in the European Union to label plant-based products as "veggie burgers" or "vegan sausages", at the same time, it voted for stricter rules on labeling of dairy substitutes, backing a ban on terms such as "milk-like" or "cheese-style" for plant-based products that contain no dairy ingredients.
The labeling rules are part of a bigger EU farming policy package for 2021-2027, and are not final. It remains to be seen whether the differentiation between meat-like and dairy-like products will be backed up by the EU Member States. While the European Diary Industry speaks about "hijacking" dairy terms, and sees the reputation of dairy products at risk, the lobby of plant-based food manufacturers calls upon health, environmental sustainability and consumer protection.
The discussion about this "Amendment 171" will continue on 27 January 2021 - so stay tuned!
“Making it illegal to name, package and depict plant-based foods in the way we have done for over 100 years is a serious step backwards. Consumers are looking for strong EU leadership on climate and environment. That means tearing down bureaucratic barriers to sustainable and healthy eating, not building them higher.”