On 1 August 2016 the German association Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb submitted a request for a preliminary ruling, which was registered with the Court of Justice as Case C-422/16, Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb eV / TofuTown.com GmbH.

The questions referred for a preliminary ruling by the Court of Justice concerned the possibility of promoting and distributing purely plant-based products under the designations “Soyatoo Tofu butter”, “Plant cheese”, “Veggie Cheese”, “Cream” and other similar designations.

With its ruling of 14 June 2017, the Court stated that, in principle, for the purposes of the marketing and advertising in question, the relevant EU legislation reserves the term “milk” only for milk of animal origin. In addition, except where expressly provided, that legislation reserves designations like “cream”, “chantilly”, “butter”, “cheese” and “yoghurt” solely for milk products, that is products derived from milk.

The Court concludes that the designations set out above cannot be legally used to designate a purely plant-based product unless that product is mentioned on the list of exceptions, which is not the case for soya or tofu.

The full judgement in case C-422/16 is available at the following LINK.