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Greenpeace, Foodwatch, WWF and other NGOs Protest EU’s Proposed Vegan Dairy Restrictions

Brussels (25/2 – 25). This week, 21 NGOs sent a letter sharply critical of Amendment 171, which will soon be discussed in the trialogue between the Council, the Commission and the EU Parliament.

In future, the proposed measures will forbid the use of pictures (such as a glass of oat milk) or words (alternative to …) on oat milk packaging that are reminiscent of milk; to draw comparisons with milk (such as its compared footprint – causes 75% less CO2 than cow’s milk) or even to use packaging that is reminiscent of milk. Must oat milk then be sold in detergent bottles?

The protection of designations is to be tightened in order to limit the risk of confusion between oat milk and cow’s milk, but so far, not a single case is known of someone having unintentionally bought oat milk although he/she wanted to buy cow milk. It is also significant that the bill was drafted in the Agriculture Committee and not in the Consumer Protection Committee.

Exact wording

The proposal is worded in the same way as the protected origin and speciality labelling (which was established, for example, for Parma ham and such products), except that this is applied to the entire dairy sector. These parts in particular are worrying:

“These designations are also protected against
(a) any direct or indirect commercial use of the designation
(ii) in so far as such use exploits the reputation of the designation
(b) any misappropriation, imitation or evocation, even if the composition or actual character of the product or service is indicated or used together with expressions such as “à la”, “type”, “process”, “style”, “imitation”, “-flavour”, “-substitute”, “kind” or like.”

They could mean that:

  • A product would no longer be allowed to describe itself as a “vegan soy-based yogurt alternative” or “pure plant-based almond alternative to cheese”.
  • Indications such as “lactose-free/dairy-free/without milk” could also be prohibited in the future, which would also be relevant for allergen indications.
  • Product descriptions such as “butter taste”, “tastes like butter”, “melts like cheese”, “milky consistency” or similar could also be banned.
  • The depiction of one’s own products could be banned – although soy yogurt is visually no different from a cow’s milk yoghurt
  • The same packaging typical for dairy products could no longer be used
  • References to the climate footprint of the product in comparison to the animal product must not be made (keyword “exploitation of reputation”).