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VEBU on the ECJ ruling on the designation of vegetable cheese
The VEBU (Vegetarian Association of Germany) comments on today's ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the admissibility of protected terms such as “milk”, “yoghurt” and “cheese” for the designation of herbal products.
“Today's strict judgment has little to do with consumer protection. The ECJ merely confirmed that the relevant regulation is motivated by economic policy and has strictly interpreted existing law, which clearly contradicts normal consumer understanding. We will continue to discuss this in the future, ”said Felix Domke, VEBU Policy Officer.
“The ECJ today declared the terms in question for the designation of herbal products such as‘ soy milk ’or‘ vegan cheese ’still inadmissible, thereby confirming the prevailing problematic interpretation. This is unfortunate, but was to be expected due to the strict wording of the regulation. At the same time, this is not a decision as to whether milk terms are misleading, ”comments Domke. However, the debate that has started shows that a ban is no longer appropriate.
More and more consumers are choosing plant-based foods for various reasons. Alternatives to milk and milk products have reached the center of society and are firmly established in the catering and retail sectors. At the same time, consumers naturally speak of “soy milk” and “vegan cheese” in their everyday lives.
The permissibility of the terms described in EU Regulation 1308/2013 for this product group would also be clearly desirable. Well-known terms such as “milk” convey a lot of information to the consumer regarding the product properties, which also apply to the alternative products to different degrees and make this understandable at a glance. At the same time, there is no risk of misleading, since it is in the interest of everyone involved to clearly state that it is a vegan or vegetarian product. Unlike the scandal surrounding the “analog cheese” that was observed a few years ago, the vegetarian quality is a clear selling point.