If it's not from a dairy it's not milk

Friday, 16 June, 2017

Across the world dairy companies are leading the drive to limit the use of dairy terms to traditional dairy-sourced products. Could this be because of global increases in the sale of non-dairy alternatives? According to Mintel US, non-dairy milk sales grew 9% in the US in 2015 whereas dairy milk sales fell 7% in the same time period.

The Court of Justice in the European Union has just decided that non-dairy products can’t be called milk in the EU.

To be labelled ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ or ‘yoghurt’ in Europe, a product must be animal-derived. In other words, unless the almond in almond milk is a lactating animal it can’t be called almond milk.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has recently observed that, for the purposes of the marketing and advertising, the term ‘milk’ is reserved only for milk of animal origin. In addition, the legislation reserves designations like ‘cream’, ‘chantilly’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ and ‘yoghurt’ solely for milk products; that is, products derived from milk.

The Court concluded that these designations cannot be legally used to designate a purely plant-based product unless that product is mentioned on the list of exceptions, which is not the case for soya or tofu.

The Court observed that the addition of descriptive or explanatory terms cannot completely exclude the likelihood of confusion on the part of consumers. This is in contrast to the US, where the courts determined that if consumers can easily tell the origin of milk from cows, goats and sheep, they can probably also determine where almond and soya milk come from.

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