Veganism

The First Amendment Protects Vegan Creamery’s Right to Call Its Products “Butter” – WholeFoods Magazine

Summary

Image courtesy of Scott C. Tips.

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been confused into thinking that peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, or even an olive-oil spread called “butter” was the same thing as dairy butter. Nor have I ever met another person who has confused a vegan butter product with real butter. Yet, there has been an ongoing legal battle between the dairy industry and the growing vegan industry over whether or not the terms “butter” and “…….

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Image courtesy of Scott C. Tips.

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been confused into thinking that peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, or even an olive-oil spread called “butter” was the same thing as dairy butter. Nor have I ever met another person who has confused a vegan butter product with real butter. Yet, there has been an ongoing legal battle between the dairy industry and the growing vegan industry over whether or not the terms “butter” and “cheese” belong solely to animal-kingdom food products and therefore mislead consumers into mistakenly purchasing vegan products when they really intend to buy dairy butter or cheese.

With the rapid growth of the vegan market worldwide—the U.S. vegan butter industry alone is valued at $198 million, which greatly outpaces the growth of the dairy butter industry—there have been a number of legal clashes between the two industries. Most recently, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the First Amendment free-speech rights of a vegan butter company deserve to be protected. “Language evolves,” the Judge noted in his ruling.

Standards of Identity

More than a century ago, the United States Supreme Court in McCray v. United States, 195 U.S. 27 (1904), ruled that “for the purposes of this act [the Oleomargarine Tax Act of 1886] the word ‘butter’ shall be understood to mean the food product usually known as butter, and which is made exclusively from milk or cream, or both, with or without common salt, and with or without additional coloring matter.”

The “butter” definition was then codified in March 1923, as Title 21 U.S.C. Section 321a, with this standard of identity: “For the purposes of the Food and Drug Act of June 30, 1906 (Thirty-fourth Statutes at Large, page 768) “butter” shall be understood to mean the food product usually known as butter, and which is made exclusively from milk or cream, or both, with or without common salt, and with or without additional coloring matter, and containing not less than 80 per centum by weight of milk fat, all tolerances having been allowed for.”

And in the century since that decision and codification, the dairy industry has jealously and capably been guarding that standard of identity as if its life depended upon it—which in some sense, it did and still does. With the heavy competition of cheap margarine—one molecule away from ordinary plastic—healthier butters faced very stiff market competition, especially when a clever but deceptive marketing campaign launched by the margarine industry wrongfully portrayed butter as the artery-clogging cause of heart attacks.

Parenthetically, even now, with the lie of that anti-butter campaign having been exposed, the myth of “deadly” butter still lingers on, particularly at Codex Alimentarius meetings where I have argued on behalf of the National Health Federation (NHF) in one committee meeting after another that the Codex delegates are setting cholesterol standards based upon a false …….

Source: https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/columns/legal-tips/the-first-amendment-protects-vegan-creamerys-right-to-call-its-products-butter/