Vegan dairy-alternative products cannot be sold within the European Union [EU] under names including ‘milk’, ‘butter’ and ‘cheese’ following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice [ECJ]. The ruling follows a case involving German food company Tofu Town, referred by the German court.
The Trier court battle between Tofu Town and VSW (German consumer protection group) saw the two sides clash over whether or not the product labels contravened EU regulations, with Tofu Town arguing that because it always used terms like ‘milk’ in conjunction with words relating to the product’s plant-based origins (i.e. Tofu Butter), it did not.
In addition, it argued, the general public’s understanding of these food terms has changed considerably in recent years. The Trier court asked the ECJ to intervene, and it ruled against Tofu Town, asserting that names like ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ could not be legally used to describe vegan products.