Dairyfarmers will fight for the complete ownership of the term “milk” after an international court ruled plant-based and vegetable emulsified drinks such as soy, cashew and rice drinks could not use milk as a label.
Dairy Connect says it will approach Food Standards Australia and New Zealand and state consumer ministers to make a follow-up decision from the European Court of Justice. The court this week blocked manufacturers of plant-based drinks from branding their products as milk.
Drinks branded as milks include soy, cashew, oat, hemp, and 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 said.
Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said 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.”
Mr 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.