EU officials reject plant-based dairy ban

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

EU officials have rejected a ban on dairy descriptors for vegan and plant-based alternatives
EU officials have rejected a ban on dairy descriptors for vegan and plant-based alternatives

Related tags vegan plant-based

European officials have rejected changes to food regulation that would have banned the use of dairy terminology and imagery in the description of plant-based cheese and milk alternatives.

Amendment 171 – dubbed plant-based dairy censorship by campaigners – would have prohibited the use of familiar formats such as cartons for plant-based milk and descriptive terms such as ‘creamy’, ‘buttery’ or ‘vegan alternative to yoghurt’ on packaging.

Originally proposed by the European Parliament’s AGRI Committee last year, the amendment was criticised for not being subjected to the normal process of public scrutiny via an impact assessment or open consultation.

The European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission have now dropped the proposals. The move follows months of protest by pressure groups, the general public and members of the plant-based food and drink industry – including Oatly, Nestlé and Alpro.


Pressure group ProVeg International described the decision as a ‘common-sense victory’ that listened to the voices of EU citizens, the industry and experts.

“It would be absurd to censor plant-based products at the same time as telling consumers to switch to a plant-based diet,”​ said vice president Jasmijn de Boo. “Imagine censoring electric cars or recycled paper.

“We applaud the EU for its clear-sightedness under immense pressure from environmentally reckless interests.”

Member of European Parliament Francisco Guerreiro lamented the time lost trying to find a compromise over the amendment, time that could have been spent working to promote plant-based diets.


“The plant-based industry is playing a vital role in the fields of environmental sustainability, human health and animal welfare and the EU must support its growth, not halt it,” ​he added.

“There is a broad consensus among food, dietetics and nutrition authorities, and international organisations that – for both health and environmental reasons – our diet should include more and more plant-based products and less and less animal-based products.”

Last year, members of the European Parliament spurned proposals​ to reserve meat-related names – such as sausages and burgers – for products containing meat.

The vote followed calls from food industry members – including European farming association Copa-Cogeca – to ban terms such as veggie burgers and vegan sausages for plant-based products. Proponents of the move fear these terms could mislead customers.

Related topics Legal Dairy Plant-Based

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Dairy Designations

Posted by Mrs Truth,

Dairy terms are already protected and that is not changing - there is a list of historic names that contain dairy terms such as coconut milk, peanut butter, cream crackers that can be used even though they are not dairy but other wise technically it is already illegal to sell e.g. vegan cheese. The products should say what they actually are coconut oil blended with water, a soya based drink etc so that customers know what they are buying and then they can indicate they are e.g. a dairy free alternative to cheese / milk etc. Customers should know from the name of the product what they are buying and how do you know what vegan cheese is from the name? Coconut oil, casher nuts, rapeseed oil.....

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Clear labels for all

Posted by L Deveney,

I don't think the labelling would be an issue if the monopoly of the words milk and burger implied it was sourced from cows. Maybe they just need to add the word to these products to make the source clear. Nobody has kicked up a fuss about goats 'milk' or chicken 'burgers.'

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In reply to 'just me' comment

Posted by Leo,

Things like coconut milk and peanut butter have been there forever, and nobody thought they were actually made of milk or butter.

Furthermore, if someone tries peanut butter thinking it's real butter mixed with peanuts, what's the harm?

This was just shameless lobbying by the meat/dairy industry trying to stop their profits from shrinking.

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