Politics & Law

Thailand Proposes New Labeling Restrictions for Plant-Based Products

Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration has drafted new regulations that could impose labeling restrictions on plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.

Under the proposed legislation, plant-based companies will still be able to use terms that indicate the shape of the product, such as “mince”, “sausages”, and even “bacon”.  However, they will need to clearly specify that the products are plant-based. The term “meat” will not be allowed, and neither will names for specific types or grades of meat (such as “pork”, “chicken”, or “wagyu”). Using images of farm animals, or any marking that is deemed to imply the product is of animal origin, will also be prohibited.

For dairy alternatives, descriptions such as “soy milk” or “almond milk” will be permitted, but terms that are said to create confusion between milk alternatives and dairy — such as “skimmed” or “whole” — will not. Cheese alternatives will not be able to use descriptors like “mature”, “cheddar”, or “mozzarella”, and phrases such as “yogurt-style” will also be banned.

Product naming will need to be in the Thai language, though additional English labeling will be permissible as long as it is consistent with the vocabulary used in Thai. Additionally, meat and dairy alternatives will need to display nutritional values on their labels.

Vegan cheese Swees
© Swees Plant-Based Foods

Plant-based labeling restrictions

As alternative proteins grow in popularity, new regulations are being brought in around the world to restrict the way they can be marketed. In many cases, this legislation is a response to lobbying from the meat and dairy industries, which often view plant-based products as a threat. For example, Spanish seafood organizations are currently attempting to restrict the labeling of plant-based seafood.

France was recently forced to suspend a decree banning the use of meat-like terms for plant-based products, after the Conseil d’Etat ruled that it may not be legal and could damage producers of meat alternatives. Meanwhile, the UK government has been urged to reject proposed labeling restrictions for dairy alternatives, which would ban companies from using terms such as “not milk”, “cheeze”, or even “alternative to milk”.

“Consumer interest in alternative proteins is on the rise, and numerous products have entered the market,” said Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration. “However, there is currently no clear direction for their regulation and safety supervision in Thailand. We are embarking on a study of the current production and imports of alternative protein products in the country.”

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