EU bodies have rejected Amendment 171 (AM171), the draft legislation which would have imposed new restrictions on the terminology used by the plant-based dairy sector.
The EU has already banned the use of dairy-derived terms such as ‘almond milk’ or ‘vegan cheese’, and this amendment would have had further implications for the dairy alternatives sector, as brands would have been prevented from using descriptive terms such as ‘creamy’, ‘buttery’ or ‘vegan alternative to yogurt’.
Visual depictions of plant-based foods that could be judged to be ‘evoking’ or ‘imitating’ dairy, as well as certain packaging formats, would also have been prohibited.
In addition, AM171 would have put an end to brands using claims that compare vegan alternatives to dairy foods – for example, ‘half the carbon emissions of dairy butter’.
Last year, the European Parliament voted to reject a ban on plant-based products using names typically associated with meat products, but voted in favour of a plant-based dairy ban.
AM171 has now been dropped by the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission, ahead of the EU’s super trilogues.
The dropping of the amendment follows objections to the draft legislation from a diverse group of stakeholders, including 456,000 consumers via a public petition spearheaded by ProVeg International, Upfield and Oatly, and supported by 96 other organisations.
NGOs, food companies such as Nestlé, Greta Thunberg and representatives of the dairy industry were also among critics of the amendment.
Cecilia McAleavey, director of public affairs and sustainable eating at Oatly, said: “We welcome the decision to reject Amendment 171. It is essential and time critical to focus on removing legal obstacles hindering the shift towards a sustainable food system, not introducing new ones.”
Jeanette Fielding, chief corporate affairs and communications officer at Upfield, added: “For the past few months, Upfield has been a vocal opponent of Amendment 171 and today’s decision to reject it is a win for the plant-based food industry and for all those people who signed the petition to pledge their support.”
Meanwhile, the European Dairy Association (EDA) has stated that the decision to uphold existing restrictions on the use of terms such as ‘vegan cheese’ in the Common Agricultural Policy will continue to protect dairy industry products.
“The protection of dairy terms remains a cornerstone of the Common Agricultural Policy,” said EDA, in a statement sent to FoodBev.
“EDA and the whole European lactosphere celebrate the decision of the EU legislators to guarantee the status quo of the EU-wide protection of dairy terms, recognising the unrivalled quality excellence of milk and dairy products.”
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