Vegan Brand Miyoko’s Kitchen Sued for Using the Word “Butter.” Here’s Why It’s BS.

According to FoodNavigator, a complaint filed in New York last month by Jasmine Brown claims that the vegan brand Miyoko’s Kitchen has violated USDA standards by misleading consumers into thinking that one of its products is made from dairy because the package features the term “butter.” No, we’re not kidding. This is a real lawsuit. Ridiculous, we know.

The plaintiff notes that Miyoko’s product meets the standard for margarine but not butter, which the government requires to have at least 80 percent milk fat. Brown said, “Consumers in America know that butter … is made exclusively from milk or cream, or both.”

Thankfully, this ludicrous claim is going to be difficult to prove in court, according to Miyoko Schinner. She says the vast majority of consumers aren’t confused by plant-based products that use the terms “milk,” “cheese,” and “yogurt,” because they are nearly always accompanied by additional wording making it clear that these products are not derived from cow’s milk.

Schinner adds, “Our latest packaging says ‘cultured vegan butter made from plants,’ and clearly spells out that it’s vegan and it’s made from plants.”

When asked by FoodNavigator why she insisted on using terms like “cheese” and “butter” on her packaging, Schinner said:
At some point you have to decide whether you are going to hide behind the curtain or go out on stand and say who you really are and what you are really trying to do, and we made that decision. This is something that could potentially impact the entire industry so we are being proactive. We really believe that the landscape of dairy is changing rapidly and innovation is driving that change. We’re trying to revolutionize how we make dairy products by making them from plants, and we believe that is going to become the new norm.
For over a decade the dairy industry, threatened by the plant-based market, has urged the Food and Drug Administration to define these terms as exclusively from animals.

And the dairy industry is not alone. In 2015 the Association for Dressings and Sauces petitioned the FDA to take regulatory action against eggless spread Just Mayo for misleading consumers, claiming that mayonnaise is defined as containing eggs. In 2014 Unilever, maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and one of the association’s members, sued Just Mayo’s parent company, Hampton Creek, on similar grounds. After consumer backlash, Unilever dropped the suit.

What’s more, earlier this year a ridiculous law took effect in Missouri prohibiting companies from using words like “meat” unless their products come from “harvested livestock or poultry.” This means that plant-based meat producers who use terms like “hot dog” and “sausage” will have to change their packaging to sell in the state. Iconic vegan brand Tofurky joined forces with The Good Food Institute and filed a lawsuit to challenge this.

When the factory farming industry feels threatened by the success of plant-based products, it’s quick to run to the government for help. But this industry has been woefully unsuccessful in its attempts to slow the growth of veganism.

You can’t stop an idea whose time has come.

According to a 2013 USDA report, consumption of cow’s milk in the U.S. fell a whopping 40 percent from 1970, while U.S. sales of dairy-free milk alternatives soared by 30 percent between 2011 and 2013. A recent study commissioned by the Plant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute revealed that the plant-based foods market had topped $3.1 billion in sales. And GlobalData reported there were six times as many vegans in America in 2017 as in 2014.

More people enjoying vegan food is great news for the billions of animals who suffer horribly at factory farms. Cows, pigs, and chickens raised and killed for food are subjected to unimaginable cruelties: small, filthy cages; painful mutilations; and violent, bloody slaughter.

Factory farmers are at a crossroads: Do they invest in the inevitable plant-based future? Or do they continue ignoring the signs and go bankrupt?

Fortunately, with more and more delicious plant-based products hitting the market, there’s truly never been a better time to switch to a compassionate vegan lifestyle. Order your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today. And check out our Pinterest page for thousands of recipe ideas!
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