The European Parliament has voted to reject a ‘veggie burger ban‘ forbidding vegan producers from using terms like ‘burger’.
However, while MEPs voted against this proposal, they voted in favor of another amendment known as the ‘dairy ban’. This would stop plant-based dairy producers from using descriptive terms.
At this time, EU law already bans the use of terms including ‘almond milk’ or ‘vegan cheese’. However, the new rules would go further.
Consequently, descriptors such as ‘yogurt-style’ and ‘cheese-alternative’ could now be banned too. In addition, the rules could prevent companies from using packaging styles such as butter blocks and milk cartons.
Currently, both votes are subject to final approval, as part of a wider vote on CAP reform later today.
Jasmijn de Boo is vice president of ProVeg International. She said the organization welcomes the vote against the veggie burger ban, saying ‘common sense has prevailed’.
However, ProVeg ‘deeply regrets’ the vote in favor of the ‘far-reaching and entirely unnecessary restrictions’ on vegan dairy products.
“It is inconceivable to us just how the European Parliament could take such different positions on such similar proposals. Although the ban is supposedly intended to prevent consumer confusion, it is clear it does nothing for consumers except confuse them.”
‘A blow to plant-based dairy’
She added: “It is also a major blow to the plant-based dairy sector – one of the most innovative and sustainable in the wider European food industry.
“Plant-based dairy businesses could now be saddled with significant financial burdens and practical challenges. These include renaming, rebranding, and remarketing of products and the potential of high legal costs.”
She noted the ban also contradicts the EU’s stated objectives in the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy. These seek to ‘create healthier and more sustainable food systems’.
In particular, the strategy states consumers should be empowered ‘to choose sustainable food’. In addition, it should be easier ‘to choose healthy and sustainable diets’.
‘Veggie burger ban’
Elena Walden is the policy manager for The Good Food Institute Europe. This is a nonprofit working to accelerate plant-based and cultivated proteins.
She said: “The European Parliament has finally taken the ridiculous veggie burger ban off the table. This decision should bring an end to the imaginary crisis of consumer confusion over plant-based food.
“But it’s baffling that, at the same time, MEPs have tied the hands of the already-restricted plant-based dairy sector.
“National leaders on the Council of the EU must clear up this mess. And reject confusing and unnecessary restrictions on plant-based dairy products.”
ProVeg’s de Boo says there is ‘still hope’ the dairy-ban will not turn into legislation. This is because the European Commission and European Council must both also decide on the matter.
“There is also a very small chance that the CAP reform, the package of which the ban is only a small part, will fall as a whole. In which case everything, including this ban, goes back to the drawing board,” she said.
“ProVeg will continue to strive for a common-sense solution to this debate. It calls on the European Union to reject the adopted restriction on plant-based dairy products during the trilogues.”