Food News

Campaigners step up pressure on Commission over “extreme” dairy-alternatives restrictions

Plant-based advocacy groups are stepping up the pressure on the European Commission over plans to extend current EU bans on dairy-like terminology for plant-based alternatives. 

This week a group of 21 of environment, animal rights and health non-profits published a joint letter demanding that the Commission “stands by its original position” of opposing the controversial Amendment 171 and Amendment 72.  

The group warns that EU is considering new plans to ban plant-based dairy alternatives from

displaying allergen info

being sold in cartons

using images of their own products

explaining the climate impact of food

Last October MEPs voted in favour of Amendment 171, which would place further restrictions on the use of dairy terminology by the makers of non-dairy foods. 

As well as extending existing restrictions around the use of dairy-related terms when describing or packaging plant-based foods, the Amendment would ban phrases such as ‘does not contain milk’. This, the petitioners say, amounts to “plant-based censorship”.  

Signatories to the letter – who include WWF, Compassion in World Farming, Greenpeace and Humane Society Europe – say that Amendment 171 would introduce “new, unnecessary and extreme restrictions on the labelling of plant-based dairy products”.  

They write: “Not only would this change put plant-based food manufacturers at an unjustified and disproportionate disadvantage, it would deprive consumers of essential information about the suitability of plant-based products in their diets, and directly contradict the sustainability goals of the EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy. Amendment 72 would introduce legal uncertainty that could jeopardise the labelling of plant-based food in the future.

“There is simply no justification for making such a dramatic change to the regulatory landscape in this way. If Amendment 171 is implemented, plant-based food manufacturers would be forced to completely reformulate the marketing of their products.

“There is simply no justification for making such a dramatic change to the regulatory landscape in this way. If Amendment 171 is implemented, plant-based food manufacturers would be forced to completely reformulate the marketing of their products. As highlighted above, they would have to develop unnatural linguistic contortions to communicate to consumers the nature of their products. These changes would lead to increased confusion and frustration among consumers and would disproportionately impact those who rely on clear information to make choices in line with their dietary needs. A denomination protection that does not even allow a food to be presented as an “alternative to” a dairy product is, in our view, disproportionate and unprecedented in the food sector.”

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