The plans would have banned plant-based dairy producers from any “evocation” of traditional dairy consumables and could have led to restrictions on allergen information, product images on the packaging of dairy alternatives and the use of milk-style cartons.
However, terms such as milk and yogurt are still forbidden for plant-based dairy products within the European Union.
The European Parliament has withdrawn the so-called Amendment 171 proposals from the current EU negotiations over the Common Agricultural Policy after a coalition of 21 environmental, consumer and animal-welfare groups called on the EU to reject them. Climate activist Greta Thunberg had also spoken out against the plans and more than 450,000 people had signed a petition calling on the EU to drop them.
Elena Walden, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, which promotes plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, said: “Finally, this nonsensical plan is off the table. While the existing restrictions on everyday language like ‘soy milk’ remain, it is reassuring that European leaders have listened to consumers. They have rejected further, extreme bans on environmental comparisons, essential allergen information, and milk cartons.
“This decision must signal the end of absurd labelling restrictions on plant-based foods across all levels of government in Europe. Instead of wasting time with pointless proposals, EU leaders should put their climate ambitions into action and support consumers to make more sustainable choices.”
However, the European Dairy Association (EDA) has seen the European Parliament’s decision as a ratification of earlier steps taken to protect dairy industry products.
The EU has already banned the use of some dairy-derived descriptors for plant-based alternative products in recent times. For example, ‘almond milk’ or ‘vegan cheese’ are terms no longer permitted.
In a statement sent to Just Food, the EDA said: “The protection of dairy terms remains a cornerstone of the Common Agricultural Policy
“EDA and the whole European lactopshère celebrate the decision of the EU legislators to guarantee the status quo of the EU-wide protection of dairy terms, recognising the unrivalled quality excellence of milk and dairy products.”