Market designations of animal vs plant-based products

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A recent European Court of Justice decision prohibits “the term ‘milk’ and the designations reserved by that regulation exclusively for milk products from being used to designate a purely plant based product in marketing or advertising, even if those terms are expanded upon by clarifying or descriptive terms indicating the plant origin of the product at issue.” This might be problematic because it prevents plant-based products from competing head-to-head with those derived from animals (see below why it is important). One thing that's come up in the wake of the decision is that the European Commission maintains lists of products that are not subject to the rule because “the exact nature of [the product] is known because of traditional use and/or when the designations are clearly used to describe a characteristic quality of the product.” For example almond milk can be called by its name (leche de almendras) in Spanish. However, the list is not exhausting of all plant-based products and sometimes doesn't involve even basic designations for certain languages. One project that could be immensely beneficial would be to research the process for adding products to the lists and to develop a list of products that would meet the traditional use/characteristic quality test for your language/country.

Why do we think this is important?

Each year, over 70 billion animals (9 times more than the population of humans) are raised and slaughtered in factory farms globally. Most animals experience serious levels of suffering evaluated as "better dead than alive". These conditions may also pose a threat to human health, because overusing antibiotics leads to a faster spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and red meat consumption is also shown to correlate with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, and higher cancer mortality rates. In addition, the animal agricultural sector has detrimental environmental consequences. For example, it is responsible for 15 % of global greenhouse gas emissions and 75 % of recent Amazon deforestation. Unfortunately, this problem still remains neglected despite its severeness.  One of the most effective ways to help alleviate the situation is to reduce meat consumption, and research into various interventions and assess their effectiveness can also be valuable and impactful.

Where to look next

European Court of Justice. (2017). EUR-Lex - 62016CJ0422 - EN - EUR-Lex.

European Commission. (2010). EUR-Lex - 32010D0791 - EN.

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