EU rejects Amendment 171

The EU parliament officially withdrew Amendment 171. The decision is applauded by stakeholders across the plant-based food value chain. 

The EU parliament officially withdrew Amendment 171 from the table – a bill that would have banned plant-free dairy companies from using words like “buttery” or “creamy” to describe their products.

The move comes several months after the European Commission initially voted in favour of the amendment which would have had drastic implications for companies manufacturing plant-based alternatives. The bill was heavily criticised by plant-based food producers as well as environmental advocacy groups. The movement was led by ProVeg, an international advocacy organisation aiming to promote healthy eating and a reduction in animal consumption. More than 100 organisations signed its letter opposing the amendment, including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). ProVeg released a statement celebrating their win: “In a victory for common sense, the plant-based community, and the future of the planet, the EU’s proposed ‘plant-based dairy censorship’ has been defeated.”

Among other stakeholders, the European Alliance for Plant-based Foods (EAPF) also applauds the rejection. According to EAPF, this decision acknowledges the need to avoid additional restrictions on references to dairy terms for plant-based products, since dairy designations are already protected: names such as ‘soy milk’ or ‘vegetarian cheese’ are not allowed in the EU. “By rejecting Amendment 171, the EU makes a good first step towards enabling the transition towards more plant-based diets – as explicitly stated in the Farm to Fork Strategy. This is key to reach the EU sustainability goals, to empower consumers to make more sustainable and conscious food choices, and to support a growing sector which would benefit the whole EU agri-food supply chain”, EAPF released in a statement. 

That achievement was the result of coordinated efforts on the part of EAPF and many partners across the whole plant-based food value chain – from farmers to consumers. The Alliance’s Secretary General, Siska Pottie, states: “We are glad that EU policymakers recognised the serious consequences of Amendment 171. This is a decision of common sense, given the already restrictive rules applied to plant-based alternatives to dairy, and the wide scientific consensus on the health and environmental benefits of a transition towards more plant-based diets, which should be facilitated, not hindered. The Alliance will continue to advocate for a level playing field for plant-based foods, in order to tap into their potential for the development of sustainable food systems in the EU, good for the people and the planet.”

Text from: Sandra Wirsching, European Biotechnology Magazine, 28 May 2021