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European dairy industry calls on bloc to get tough on ‘misleading’ labels

Posted: 30 April 2018 | | No comments yet

Three European trade bodies have issued a reminder to member states not to go soft on misleading practices.

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BY ANY OTHER NAME: Many products may soon have to begin looking for a new name

What do almond milk, coconut butter and soy yogurt have in common? Apart from being dairy alternatives and by that virtue staples of the ‘clean eating’ movement, they are all, according to the European Dairy Association (EDA), misleading.

Last June, the European Court of Justice ruled that by using terms suggestive of dairy, such as milk, butter and yogurt, on plant-based products, manufacturers were misleading customers. 

Now, almost a year later, trade bodies representing the bloc’s dairy and agriculture sector have called on member state authorities to get tough on customer-confusing practices.

The EDA, Eucolait and Copa and Cogeca issued a joint statement last week. 

“Dairy produce is full of calcium and a wide range of essential nutrients which is particularly essential for children and the elderly,” said EDA Secretary-General Alexander Anton.

“It is misleading for consumers to see products like soya “milk” and “tofu butter” being described as “milk” and “butter” replacements when we are talking about absolutely different products whose nutritional characteristics are far from matching the unique blend of macro- and micronutrients of milk and dairy.”

Eucolait Secretary-General Jukka Likitalo said: “[We] urge the EU to ensure that dairy terms and marketing standards remain protected in EU legislation and are respected by all supply chain partners.

“They need to be fully enforced by Member States authorities at all times. It is also vital that they continue to be protected under the future CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] and used exclusively for milk and dairy products. Marketing standards set out basic product specifications that have to be respected by all supply chain actors in the interest of ensuring high quality products and fair competition.”

The issue of nomenclature rears its head regularly when it comes to modern so-called alternative products. In the United States, a petition is currently open with the USDA to ban alternative meats, including emerging lab-grown meats, from being labelled as such. 

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