The law of Parliament on the word milk

The European Parliament in its plenary session approved a strengthening of protection for dairy names. Vegetable drinks, such as those based on soy , almond, oats , etc., cannot be called “milk“. Different in composition and in the origin of the raw material itself, veg drinks and milk of animal origin are two products that differ above all from a nutritional point of view .

For some time in the European Union it has not been possible to use the word “milk” to define some vegetable drinks, such as, for example, soy drinks. The vote of the European Parliament, however, goes further, as it does not limit itself to confirming the rules in force since 2017, which prohibit the improper use of the typical names of dairy products such as: butter, cheese, yogurt or the word ” milk ” itself. “. With this vote, Parliament also decided to ban evocations and imitations: for example, the use of expressions such as “milk-type drink” or “milk substitute” . Just as tofu can no longer be defined as a “vegetable cheese”, or a rice or soy drink can no longer bear words such as “milk substitute” on the label . This is a protection of dairy names similar to that provided for PDOs and PGIs.


Protection of the denomination

The European assembly has therefore decided to reiterate its opposition to the use of the name milk for products based on soy, almond, rice , oats and other derivatives of non-animal origin. The protection of dairy denominations in Europe began as early as 1987 and was confirmed with subsequent regulations. Furthermore, with various sentences, the Court of Justice of the European Union has promptly confirmed the protection of dairy names. The latest, in chronological order, was the well-known TofuTown ruling, which established that the European ban on the use of dairy names is valid even if the plant-based products are accompanied by indications specifying their origin, i.e. their nature. vegetable of the product.


The vegetable drinks market

With the increase in veganism and intolerances – particularly to lactose – the sale of milk of animal origin is suffering a decline compared to the constant growth on the market of plant-based alternatives. According to estimates released by the website The Vegan Society , in fact, the vegetable drinks sector   in Europe in 2019 produced a total turnover of over  1.7 billion euros which translates into 14% of the total sector. Those who prefer vegetable milk are those who are allergic or intolerant to cow’s milk , a constant increase, but also those who choose it over cow’s milk , for ethical or personal reasons. Vegetable milk is usually less caloric , without saturated fats and rich in proteins and vitamins . All elements that make it a valid substitute for cow’s milk.

Choosing the vegetable drink requires attention: the origin must always be checked (especially if we are talking about soya). Prefer organic and traceable crops . Products with added sugar or sodium should also be avoided , as should those with unspecified vegetable oil .

Almond milk (  unsweetened) is now America’s favorite milk substitute, with sales growth of 250% over the past five years, representing 5% of the total milk market Many attribute this growing consumption, despite rice, soy or oat drinks, to its beneficial properties and in particular to its high protein content , valuable for those following a vegan diet or on a diet.

Banana milk is also among the most popular vegetable milks .

These are the benefits of oat flour .

Soy foods are one of the plant-based alternatives for those who don’t want to eat meat .

Is eating without food useful when you’re not feeling well?

Even veg cheeses cannot be called cheese

The Court of Justice  interpreted the  Union legislation by noting that, as stated in the text of the ruling: “for the purposes of marketing and advertising, the legislation in question reserves, in principle, the name ‘milk’ solely  for milk of animal origin . Furthermore, except for expressly provided exceptions, this legislation reserves the names such as cream, chantilly, butter, cheese and yoghurt,  solely for dairy products , i.e. products  derived from milk “.
In particular, the following names used in all phases of marketing are reserved exclusively for dairy products:

  • whey
  • milk cream or cream
  • butter
  • buttermilk
  • butteroil
  • casein
  • anhydrous milk fat (MGLA)
  • cheese
  • yoghurt
  • kefir
  • xkumiss
  • viili/fil
  • smetana
  • phil
  • rjaženka
  • rūgušpiens.

Milk and cheese can only be defined as such if they are of animal origin , regardless of the properties and benefits, for example, of vegetable drinks, which are valid alternatives to cow’s milk, for intolerants or vegans.


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