The ECJ determined that legislation reserved use of the term ‘milk’ only for milk of animal origin. Furthermore, in principle, EU law provides that use of the terms ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ and ‘yoghurt’ are reserved for milk-based products. The Court went on to conclude that the use of descriptions clarifying the plant origin of the product was also prohibited under EU legislation.
NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said: “We welcome the European Court of Justice ruling, which is clear that the use of ‘milk, cream, butter, cheese or yoghurt’ to market and advertise plant-based products, such as soya milk, is, in principle, prohibited under EU law.
“The NFU has long called for clarity in labelling for products marketed as dairy alternatives. It is important that consumers are not confused or misled and we expect the UK supply chain to act upon this ruling in the marketing of these products where applicable.”