Dairy Connect ramps up its battle on false ‘milks’

Dairy industry lobby organisation Dairy Connect will ramp up its truth in labelling advocacy in its continuing fight-back against plant based drinks and vegetable emulsions being branded as ‘milks’.

This follows a decision by the European Court of Justice on June 15 blocking manufacturers in the EU from labelling their processed plant liquids as ‘milks’.

Drinks branded as milks include soy, cashew, oat, hemp, rice extracts. Tofu is sometimes also labelled ‘butter’ in the EU. Almond and coconut drinks were exempted from the European Court’s ruling.

Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said today that Dairy Connect would re-double its efforts to achieve a positive labelling outcomes for consumers, dairy farmers, processors and vendors.

“We applaud the decision by the Court of Justice that plant based drinks were not ‘milks’, because milk was exclusively a mammary secretion from mammals,” he said.

“We have led a major campaign in Australia this year that has resounded around the consumer world attracting publicity domestically and in the UK, Ireland and the USA,” he said.

“Dairy Connect will make representations to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand and to consumer protection Ministers as well as city and country politicians in all States and in Canberra.

“We will also set-up an online petition to garner support from regional & rural dairy communities and farming families, including city consumers who have shown great support for dairy farmers.”

Fair trading laws and food laws in Australia require that labels do not misinform consumers through false, misleading or deceptive representations.

This legislation includes the Australian Consumer Law contained in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, as well as State and Territory Fair Trading Acts and Food Acts.

Shaughn Morgan said it was critical that consumers – particularly those with children – were not led to believe that plant based drinks were the nutritional equivalent of fresh cows’ milk. They were simply not, he said.

“Our position is based on the proven science that fresh milk is a premium quality, short shelf-life food of immense nutritional value to humans.

“Drinks based upon plant-based alternatives simply don’t have the same nutrient content as cows’ milk.

“Milk generally contains higher levels of protein and a wider range of vitamins and minerals.

“Children need sufficient protein and energy for normal growth and development.”

Shaughn said that if beverages like soy or rice drinks were a regular part of a young child’s diet, other sources of protein and energy were needed as supplements to a healthy diet.

“Plant-derived drinks that contain less protein than milk are required to have advice on the label that the product was not suitable as a milk replacement for children under five,” he said.

The European Court of Justice ruling was celebrated across the continent by dairy farm groups.

“The unique and natural blend of micro and macronutrients of milk and dairy products cannot be matched by any plant-based product,” according to secretary-general of the European Dairy Association Alexander Anton.

“Even in explaining the difference on the packaging, those plant-based products are not allowed to misuse our dairy terms for marketing their products,” he told the UK Financial Times.

A copy of the European Court of Justice media release may be found at:
https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2017-06/cp170063en.pdf