Miyoko’s Kitchen, a leading vegan cheese and butter brand, is celebrating victory over a landmark legal battle.
Last year, it was served a temporary injunction by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). It came as the company was using labels including ‘cruelty-free’ for its vegan butter products.
Following this, the company filed a first amendment lawsuit against the CDA – and won.
Federal court documents confirm California is not allowed to ban the brand from using terms ‘butter’, ‘lactose-free’, and ‘cruelty-free’. Additionally, Miyoko’s Creamery can include ‘revolutionizing dairy with plants’ on its vegan butter.
Under US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling regulations, companies are restricted from ‘misbranding’ items.
In 2019, the CDA wrote Miyoko’s a letter stating the company was giving a ‘misleading’ – and therefore illegal – impression of ‘a dairy food without [dairy] characteristics’.
Furhtermore, Miyoko’s was asked to remove images on its website of a woman hugging a cow.
Founder and CEO Miyoko Schinner announced: “Food is ever-evolving, and so too, should language to reflect how people actually use speech to describe the foods they eat.”
Vegan butter battle
The Animal Legal Defense Fund represented Miyoko’s Kitchen’s in court, helping to secure the win. Executive Director Stephen Wells said: “The CDA’s attempt to censor Miyoko’s from accurately describing its products and providing context for their use is a blatant example of agency capture.
“The fact that animal-milk producers fear plant-based competition does not give state agencies the authority to restrict one industry in order to help another.
“Using words such as ‘butter’ and ‘milk’ in the context of even products made from plants and not from animals is common parlance among consumers in the modern world.
“We are extremely pleased by this ruling. And, believe that it will help set a precedent for the future of food.”