The European Parliament has voted to reject the ban on plant-based products using names typically associated with meat products, but has voted in favour of a plant-based dairy ban.
The ‘veggie burger ban’ would have restricted the use of terms such as ‘sausage’, ‘burger’ and ‘steak’ on labels for plant-based alternative products and could have seen them renamed as ‘veggie discs’ or ‘veggie tubes’.
While companies can continue using such names on their products and menus, the parliament did vote in favour of banning plant-based alternatives to dairy products from using terms such as ‘yoghurt-style- and ‘cheese alternative’. This further extends existing EU bans of using terms such as ‘almond milk’ and ‘vegan cheese’.
Both proposals were supposedly intended to avoid consumer confusion.
ProVeg International – who set up a petition opposing the ban – says in the most extreme case, it could lead to a ban on the use of data to show what a product causes. This would mean the removal of phrases such as “half the carbon emissions of dairy butter” which has been said to ‘exploit the reputation’ of a dairy product.
Jasmijn de Boo, vice president of ProVeg International, said: “Although we welcome the European Parliament’s vote against the introduction of naming restrictions on plant-based alternatives to meat, where common sense has prevailed, we deeply regret its vote in favour of far-reaching and entirely unnecessary restrictions on the descriptions of plant-based dairy products.
“It is also a major blow to the plant-based dairy sector, one of the most innovative and sustainable in the wider European food industry. Plant-based dairy businesses could now be saddled with significant financial burdens and practical challenges around renaming, rebranding and remarketing of products and the potential of high legal costs.
“This ban is also in direct contradiction of the EU’s stated objectives in the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy to create healthier and more sustainable food systems.”
The European Dairy Association welcomed the vote to introduce naming restrictions for plant-based alternatives to dairy products, stating in a Tweet that the vote would protect terms such as milk, cheese, whey and butter, and that the vote represented “A good day for dairy, for European consumers and citizens and for Europe”.
Both proposals formed part of a wider vote on common agricultural policy (CAP) reform. The reforms were approved by European MEPs, with 425 MEPs voting for the adoption of the CAP, 212 voting against the reforms and 51 abstaining.
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