The European Court of Justice recently established that the plant based products cannot be commercialized with names like “cheese”, “milk cream or custard”, “butter”, “cheese” and “yogurt” since, according to the EU law, a similar definition must be only designated to animal based products. The prohibition, according to the judges, is also valid in case those names are used next to explanations and indications on the plant based origin of the product.
The decision, that has been source of many uproars, has been made after the controversy between a german company, TofuTown, that produces and distributes vegetarian and vegan products calling them “tofu butter” or “Veggie-cheese”, and an association that fights against unfair competition, the Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb. Even if the accused company stated that the possible misunderstanding would be solved associating the exact origin of the milk (soy milk, rice milk etc), the Court of Justice considered that those preventive measures are not enough, but also identified some exceptions, like almond milk, coconut milk or cocoa butter, since they are “traditional names”, that are part of our culture and for this reason also defined by the law (those products are mentioned in the attachment I of the decision 2010/791/EU).
In fact, what we are used to call “soy milk” is an ancient drink, probably originated in China and obtained by grinding the seeds with water, that has its own nutritional and organoleptic properties, even if they are completely different from the milk that comes from animals. The "almond milk" which, as the Court of Justice has established, will continue to call this way, it's obtained instead by squeezing the chopped almonds and infused into cold water. The percentage of almonds used to prepare this tasty drink varies from brand to brand: almonds milk from the Easy To Go line of Probios is made with 5% almonds and the addition of very few other ingredients: water, rice starch and pea protein.
Probios, leader company in Italy in the distribution of organic vegetarian products, has always been careful about the name of its products and about the transparency of the label, focusing on the excellence of the products, on the innovation and on the origin of the raw material, as a way to safeguard the consumers.
In addition to Almond milk from EasyToGo, the Tuscan Group offers, in fact, a wide range of plant based drinks: the Rice&Rice’s rice drinks, the Soia&Soia’s gluten free soy drinks, the Oat Drink and the and Probios’ coconut milk. Those are organic healthy and tasty alternatives, perfect to quench your thirst during summer and great for those who suffer of food intolerances and choose to follow a vegan diet.
It's important to remember that milk substitutes vegetal drinks are currently subject to an ordinary VAT rate of 22%, the same tax as the luxury goods, thus creating discrimination not only for those who drink vegetable milk by ethical choice but Even for those who are intolerant to milk and lactose.
For these reasons, a number of petitions have also been launched on the change.org platform to lower to 4% VAT on plant beverages, just as the standard for cows' milk.