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The EU Court of Justice has clarified food labelling legislation, ruling that only dairy products can use the words ‘milk’, ‘cheese’, ‘cream’, ‘whey’ or ‘butter’, and they cannot be used to market plant-based alternatives, such as soy, almond or tofu.

The decision was announced on June 14th, in response to a case brought against the German vegetarian and vegan business Tofutown (by a German association combatting unfair competition, Sozialer Wettbewerb). It was argued that product names, such as “tofu butter” could be misleading or confusing to consumers and was in breach of EU labelling rules.

The court outlined a number of exceptions to these rules, such as for nut butters, e.g. peanut butter, coconut milk  and cream filled sweets and biscuits, e.g. custard creams (full list available here: https://goo.gl/iFmPWx).

ICOS welcomes the clarity provided by this ruling, both in terms of consumer protection and in ensuring the protection of dairy terms which is provided for in the CAP, in recognition of the specific nutritional characteristics which they represent and which cannot be replicated in plant-based alternatives.

By Alison Graham

European Affairs Executive

Tags: European Court of Justice, Non-Dairy Milk