EU Court Rules on Dairy-Style Names

The BBC is reporting that the European Court of Justice has ruled that “[p]lant-based foods cannot be sold in the European Union using terms such as milk, butter and cheese.” In so ruling, the Court rejected efforts by German food company TofuTown from selling their products with names like “Soyatoo Tofu Butter” and Veggie Cheese.”

In a press release dated June 14 (internal footnotes removed), the Court of Justice stated:

[I]n principle, for the purposes of the marketing and advertising in question, the relevant legislation reserves the term ‘milk’ only for milk of animal origin. In addition, except where expressly provided, that legislation reserves designations like ‘cream’, ‘chantilly’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ and ‘yoghurt’ solely for milk products, that is products derived from milk.

The Court concludes that the designations set out above 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 explains that the addition of descriptive or clarifying additions indicating the plant origin of the product concerned, such as those used by TofuTown, has no influence on that prohibition.

You can find the full judgment here.