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.
Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President, ProVeg International, celebrated the ‘common-sense victory’. “Citizens, industry and experts have spoken and the EU listened. It would be absurd to censor plant-based products at the same time as telling consumers to switch to a plant-based diet. Imagine censoring electric cars or recycled paper. We applaud the EU for its clear-sightedness under immense pressure from environmentally reckless interests,” she said.
The rejection of AM171 by the European Parliament, The European Council and The European Commission is an important victory in the battle between those pushing for progressive policies such as the European Green Deal and lobbyists working for the meat and dairy industries. Had it gone the other way and been accepted, AM171 “would have set a dangerous precedent” according to de Boo. Instead, she added, “Europe has sent a clear message to the rest of the world and chosen the planet over politics”.