Doubt cast on impending dairy alternatives labelling guidance

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Terms including 'cheeze' could be banned under new guidance. Credit: Applewood Vegan
Terms including 'cheeze' could be banned under new guidance. Credit: Applewood Vegan

Related tags plant-based

ProVeg UK has called on the government to scrap guidance on dairy alternatives labelling which is set to be published at Easter.

The guidance, which has been developed by the Food Standards & Information Focus Group (FSIFG), would restrict how plant-based dairy alternative products can be labelled, with terms such as “not milk​” and “plant-based alternative​” set to be outlawed.

The FSIFG claims that the new guidance will reduce confusion among consumers when comparing dairy and plant-based products, but ProVeg UK have cited multiple studies that have shown that consumers are not confused by the current labelling.

The UK is the second-largest consumer of plant-based alternative proteins in Europe and is home to numerous firms producing vegan dairy and meat alternative products.

ProVeg CEO Jasmijn de Boo argued that despite the upcoming publication of the guidance, there is “no problem to fix here​”.

We understand that supermarkets are not receiving complaints from consumers about being confused by dairy names for plant-based products so no service is done to the consumer by restricting these terms​,” de Boo said.

Arguably, more confusion may be caused if brands are required to use terms that consumers are unfamiliar with. But there is a considerable disservice to a large and growing industry that will incur costs having to relabel their products.

“One of the reasons the UK voted to leave the EU was to free itself up from burdensome regulations like the legacy law that the FSIFG is interpreting. But that law is no longer fit for purpose. We need to be encouraging the plant-based food market where we can, not seeking to restrict it.”

A similar rule is set to be implemented in Italy, with a focus on ‘meaty’ descriptors for plant-based products​. However, Italian agriculture minister Francesco Lollobrigida has recently admitted that the government is in discussions with plant-based meat companies about altering the rules in a bid to avoid hurting business.

In other news, scientists have found that refrigerating lettuce can significantly reduce the risk of E.coli contamination.

Related topics Legal Dairy Plant-Based

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