farmers in europe lose their attempt to ban terms such as “burger” in plant-based foods


Friday 23rd saw the European Parliament cast its final vote on the terms used for plant-based products. The European parliament has decided that meat-related words can be used to describe plant-based foods, whereas terms such as “yoghurt-style” and “cheese-like” for plant-based alternatives to dairy products have seen further restrictions to the descriptions. 

The European Consumer Organisation welcomed the decision of rejecting the proposed ban on terms such as “veggie steaks” by European politicians. They also added that consumers will in no way be confused by plant-based products that do not contain meat and can continue to use labels such as “steaks”, “sausages” or “burgers” to describe their foods. Furthermore, the European parliament said that so-called veggie burgers, soy steaks and vegan sausages can continue to be sold as such across restaurants, shops and the hospitality industry.

2017 saw a ban on plant-based alternatives calling themselves milk, cream, butter, cheese or yoghurt. But the second proposal extended this to terms likening the products to dairy, such as style, imitation, flavour and substitute, which was further backed by the European Dairy Association (EDA) stating that it was “a good day for dairy, for European consumers and citizens and for Europe”.

There are two sides to every story but for many, common sense has prevailed on the European Parliament’s vote against the introduction of naming restrictions on plant-based alternatives to meat. But why should this be any different to the plant-based dairy industry? By imposing further unnecessary restrictions on the descriptions of plant-based dairy on phrases such as “yoghurt substitute” or “imitation cheese”, this will see further significant costs and challenges around marketing, including renaming and rebranding, which could also lead to high legal costs. If anything banning dairy-related terminology for plant-based dairy will in fact create more confusion in the decision making process when choosing healthy products.

More news to follow…

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