Judge Rules in Favor of Miyoko’s in Vegan Butter Case 


The United States District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled in favor of vegan dairy brand Miyoko’s, allowing the brand to use the terms ‘butter’, ‘cruelty-free’, and ‘lactose-free’ when labeling its products.

The lawsuit stems from a letter sent to Miyoko’s in December 2019 from the California Department of Food & Agriculture, informing the vegan dairy brand that the label for its vegan butter failed to comply with state and federal law. Miyoko’s was told to remove the terms ‘butter’, ‘lactose-free’, ‘hormone-free’, and ‘cruelty-free’ from its plant-based butter packaging. The California Department of Food & Agriculture claimed that due to the butter’s ingredients (coconut oil, sunflower oil, and cashew nuts) “it is not a dairy product.”

Miyoko’s responded in February 2020 with a lawsuit claiming the state and its demands were in violation of Miyoko’s First Amendment rights. The lawsuit also stated that the advertising and packaging for the butter product were neither misleading nor deceptive due to the packaging also including the words ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegan’ in reference to the word ‘butter’.

On August 21, 2020 Judge Richard Seeborg granted Miyokos’ motion for a preliminary injunction, preventing the state from enforcing its claims in regards to the words ‘butter’, ‘lactose-free’, and ‘cruelty-free’. Explaining his ruling, Judge Seeborg stated, “The state’s showing of broad marketplace confusion around plant-based dairy alternatives is empirically underwhelming” and that the state did not “present testimony from a shopper tricked by Miyoko’s vegan butter, or otherwise make a case for why Miyoko’s substitute spread is uniquely threatening to the public weal.”

Judge Seeborg, however, denied Miyoko’s motion in regards to the use of the words ‘hormone-free’ and the phrase ‘revolutionizing dairy with plants’, the first because plants contain naturally-occurring hormones and the second because Judge Seeborg ruled the phrase “plainly misleading”.

The Miyoko’s case is not the only one in which states have aimed to enforce labeling laws against plant-based brands. In December of 2019, a federal court blocked the state of Arkansas from enforcing a meat label censorship law against plant-based meat brand The Tofurky Company. The law would have made use of the words ‘burger’, ‘sausage’, and ‘roast’ on plant-based meat packaging illegal, even with the inclusion of qualifiers such as ‘veggie’, ‘vegan’, and ‘plant-based’.

Upton’s Naturals Co., a vegan meat brand, sued the state of Mississippi’s governor and commissioner of agriculture and commerce in federal court last year, as well, when the state passed a law stipulating that plant-based foods cannot be labeled as meat even if the label also states that the product is ‘100% vegan’, ‘plant-based’, or ‘meatless’. The lawsuit was dropped in November 2019 after Mississippi revised the law, permitting the use of meaty terms on the packaging of plant-based meat products providing that qualifiers such as ‘meat-free’, ‘meatless’, ‘plant-based’, ‘vegetarian’, or ‘vegan’ were used as well.

The outcomes of these cases are huge wins for vegan and plant-based meat and dairy companies. In his ruling for Miyoko’s, Judge Seeborg noted the case between Arkansas and The Tofurkey Company, stating that “an Arkansas district attorney recently rejected that state’s framing of commercial speech as misleading where the label of plant-based ‘meat’ products included ample terminology to indicate [their] vegan or vegetarian nature.” This is promising for any plant-based companies that may come up against similar lawsuits in the future, as they now know that attempts by states to similarly enforce FDA regulations this way will likely be found unlawful under the First Amendment.

Source: Judge Rules in Favor of Miyoko’s in Vegan Butter Case – Veg World Magazine



Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture Orders Removal of Miyoko’s Vegan Butter From Store Shelves 

AFC NOTES: I would advise Wisconsin to get into the dairy-free business, before they change the laws to such a degree that when they do go belly up, and it’s just a matter of time, no one on the plant-based block will let them in. SUFFERING is not on our menu as it is in Wisconsin. We don’t bring Holocaust producers into the fold after they try to destroy those people saving the holocaust victims from further torture. Whoa. Raising a cow and enslaving the cow to force the cow to produce milk for you? And you want to protect your right to do that? By forcing legislators to pass legislation to allow you to continue the holocaust? How many judges do you bribe to enforce your holocaust laws?

Nah, we don’t even want you on the planet, much less in our suffer-free zone. Whole Foods should have kept the product on the shelves. You support illegal immigrants breaching the border by defying the law? And you make huge profits from plant-based foods, and you can’t take a stand in favor of free speech rights when it comes to the animals and the companies that sell animal-free foods? Skogen’s too? Who are the cowards now?


Founder Miyoko Schinner fights back with new “vegetable spread” label to appease dairy state concern.


Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recently instructed supermarkets to remove non-dairy products that use the term “butter” on labels based on claims that these products don’t comply with the state’s definition of butter—which requires that it be made from dairy-based milk or cream. The action comes in response to dairy industry complaints about vegan brand Miyoko’s Kitchen Cultured Vegan Butter which is made from cashews. Wisconsin, which calls itself “America’s Dairyland,” is one of the biggest dairy-producing states in the nation and is also the biggest maker of dairy-based butter.

During the two months the removal order was in effect, Miyoko’s Kitchen products were pulled from at least one Whole Foods Market location and from retail chain Skogen’s Festival Foods—while no other products were singled out, according to Kayla Paul, a Skogen’s quality and assurance and regulatory affairs specialist.

In response, Miyoko’s Kitchen founder Miyoko Schinner offered to create stickers that read “vegetable spread” that the stores can affix to her products if the state approved them. The DATCP took more than a month to respond but finally approved the label on June 12.

In recent years, the dairy industry has challenged the ability for plant-based companies to use terms such as “milk,” “cheese,” “butter,” and “yogurt,” citing that such labeling leads to consumer confusion, and that companies should use labels with terms such as “imitation,” “substitute,” and “alternative” to describe their products.

Last year, the United States Food and Drug Administration sought input from the public on its understanding of such terms when included in the names of plant-based products. According to a review commissioned by trade group Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), 87 percent of consumers said they are not confused by the differences between plant-based dairy alternatives and products made from cow’s milk.

“The FDA should abide by free market principles and not restrict plant-based foods to unfairly benefit the dairy industry,” PBFA Executive Director Michele Simon said. The PBFA and other opponents of such labeling restrictions also argue that the language is a violation of corporate free speech rights protected by the First Amendment.

Source: Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture Orders Removal of Miyoko’s Vegan Butter From Store Shelves | VegNews