About veggie-burgers and vegan yoghurt: 2 weights, 2 measures

What’s in a name?

“Veggie-burgers” and “tofu-steaks” may keep their names. This was confirmed by the European Parliament on 23 October 2020 during a vote on the Common Agricultural Policy in the EU.

The meat industry had called for a ban on the use of names such as ‘burger’, ‘sausage’, ‘steak’ and ‘schnitzel’ for non-meat products, as this would mislead EU consumers. They proposed the designation of meat substitutes with names such as ‘vegetarian discs’ and ‘veggie fingers’.

However, they did not succeed: the proposed amendment was voted down by a large majority in the European Parliament.


Remarkable decision

This decision is remarkable because it goes against the prevailing EU policy on dairy products. Indeed, terms such as ‘cheese’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’ and ‘yoghurt’ are reserved exclusively for products containing milk of animal origin.

Names such as ‘soy milk’ and ‘yoghurt substitute’ are banned both on the label and in advertisements for vegan products. This was already decided by the European Court of Justice in its judgment of 14 June 2017 (Case C-422/16, VSW v. TofuTown). The European Parliament confirmed this position in its vote of 23 October 2020.

European legislation does, however, provide for an exception for names that are well-established, such as ‘coconut milk’ and ‘peanut butter’.

Fencer’s lawyers keep their finger on the pulse of new legislative developments. If you have any questions about the indications that must and may be used on product labels, about permitted indications in advertising messages or about consumer deception, please contact us.