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Plant-based foods cannot be sold in the European Union using terms such as milk, butter and cheese, the European Court of Justice has ruled.
The ECJ was ruling in a case referred to it by a German court and involving German food company TofuTown, who sells plant-based products with names including “Soyatoo Tofu Butter” and “Veggie Cheese”. Tofu Town says customers were not misled, because their products’ plant origins were clear.
Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that soy- and tofu-based products could no longer be promoted using terms such as “milk,” “butter,” and “cheese,”—which the court argued are reserved for products that contain animal-derived dairy.
The court granted an exemption from the ban for coconut and almond milk, along with nut-based butters, which cooperating attorney for nonprofit Good Food Institute tells VegNews is absurd. “The approach of the EU is anti-competitive and paternalistic,” Barrella says. “If those exceptions are okay, then nothing is wrong with other exceptions, as a matter of logic or linguistics.”
We too, are confused – if they are so certain that “milk” has to come from an animal, then why are they at the same time allowing coconut milk to be called milk?