Government ban on dairy names for plant-based foods “outrageous and unnecessary”
Draconian action will see many of Britain’s favourite brands disappear from supermarket shelves, and coffee shops forced to drop oat milk from their menu.
ProVeg UK has today denounced plans by the UK Government to ban dairy descriptor names on plant-based products as “both outrageous and unnecessary”.
The guidance, directed at Trading Standards officials and still to be published, will introduce tougher rules on plant-based labelling than are already in place in the European Union.
Brand names that would be forbidden from supermarket shelves and coffee shops under the new guidance, include: Flora Plant B*tter, M.L.K.Ology; Wunda Plant Based Not Milk; Good Hemp – Oat + Hemp Milk; Mylk, Qurkee M’LK, amongst others.
The new rules will hurt consumers and damage sensible, healthy food signposting that enables consumers to choose healthy and environmentally friendly plant-based options as part of their diet.
The guidance, which was not subject to public consultation, was drafted by an obscure group called the Food Standards and Information Focus Group (FSIFG) and will direct Trading Standards officers’ enforcement activity. The plant based sector was not consulted despite the existence of the Plant-based Food Alliance UK.
“It seems incomprehensible that the Government would impose such restrictive measures on a booming part of the UK economy. It is both outrageous to push this forward and hugely unnecessary,” Jimmy Pierson, Director at Pro Veg UK, said.
“It sends out the wrong message about supporting British business and about tackling climate change. Plant-based diets emit half as much greenhouse gas as animal-based diets and should be actively encouraged by the Government, not hindered. For example, Flora Plant B*tter has 75% less climate impact than dairy butter.” Pierson said.
It is unclear what purpose these rules will serve as there is no evidence that British consumers get confused choosing between dairy and plant-based alternative products.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said it is giving “careful consideration” to the guidance document, which ProVeg understands is due to be published in the coming weeks.
It will effectively outlaw the following:
- Play on words, such as “mylk”, and “m*lk”;
- Statements such as “not milk” in conjunction with marketing imagery that evokes milk;
- The use of “an alternative to X” or terms such as “yoghurt-style”, “Wensleydale-type“;
- The use of terms, such as “red Leicester flavour” or “cheddar flavour” on non-dairy products;
- Descriptive terms such as “semi” or “whole” applied to plant-based drinks.
An EU proposal, known as Amendment 171, to ban terms that evoked reference to dairy products has already been defeated at the European Parliament so the UK guidance goes above and beyond the rules in place in the EU placing more burden on businesses and restricting consumer choice.
“We urge Defra to set aside this guidance and focus instead on helping the UK to transition more to plant-based diets and treat consumers as informed and educated adults,” Pierson added.
Notes to Editors
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About ProVeg International
ProVeg is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives.
ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.
ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. ProVeg also has Observer Status at the IPCC.