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European high court reserves dairy-specific terms for milk products only

A recent European Court of Justice ruling provides hope to organizations fighting for the enforcement of existing dairy food regulations in the United States.

On June 15, the European Court of Justice upheld European Union regulations preventing plant-based dairy alternatives from using dairy-specific terms.

National Milk Producers Federation President (NMPF) and CEO Jim Mulhern praised the European high court for upholding the standards of identity and labeling for milk products, Friday. Mulhern said he hopes the ruling will inspire the FDA to begin enforcing such regulations.

“The European Court of Justice did just what we’re asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do: uphold and enforce current standards of labeling for milk and milk products,” NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said. “NMPF is leading efforts on Capitol Hill to pass the DAIRY PRIDE Act, legislation that would require FDA to develop a timetable for enforcing standards of identity for dairy foods.”

Mulhern said the court’s decision to reject the argument that consumers understand the inherent composition and nutritional differences between the real dairy products and plant-based imitators was encouraging and appropriate.

“None of the fake milk products provide the same high-quality nutrition package as real milk. It is past time that manufacturers of these products, which are concoctions of powered plant ingredients and water, abide by existing standards, whether in Europe or the United States,” Mulhern said.

The EU regulations expressly reserve the term “milk” for products derived from animals. The regulations also reserved designations such as “cream,” “chantilly,” “butter,” “cheese” and “yogurt” for products derived from milk.

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