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Thailand FDA Moves to Restrict Plant-Based Product Labeling

Thailand 25.06.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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Thailand's Food and Drug Agency (FDA) has proposed new regulations that could significantly impact how plant-based food products are labeled, potentially complicating the landscape for local manufacturers. The draft rules would prohibit the use of meat and dairy-related terms for plant-based alternatives unless the packaging clearly indicates the ingredients, such as "plant-based burger" rather than "plant-based chicken burger."
Thailand FDA Moves to Restrict Plant-Based Product Labeling
The legislation allows plant-based products to use general shape-based terms like “patties,” “mince,” and “sausages,” and even “bacon” and “pepperoni,” provided they clearly state their plant origin. However, the use of descriptors that could confuse the product with meat, such as "whole" or "skimmed" for non-dairy beverages, or cheese terms like "mature," "cheddar," or "mozzarella" for vegan cheeses, would be banned.

The Thai FDA emphasized that the proposed regulations are part of a broader initiative to supervise and set guidelines for alternative protein products. "We are embarking on a study of the current production and imports of alternative protein products in the country, and studying the related regulations [to apply this knowledge] in the development of regulations and standards in Thailand," said the FDA. This includes a detailed analysis of the plant-based protein sector.

This regulatory push in Thailand contrasts with legislative trends in other regions. Unlike the EU, where plant milks must avoid dairy terminology, Thailand would still permit the use of "milk" in descriptions like "soya milk" or "almond milk." This divergence comes at a time when similar bans have been suspended in French courts and are under consideration in Italy.

The move by the Thai FDA also reflects growing pressure from meat and dairy industry lobbying groups, which mirrors challenges faced by plant-based companies globally. In the past, firms like Oatly and Tofurky have successfully contested such labeling laws in the UK and US, arguing that consumers are not misled by plant-based terms like "milk" or "meat."

As the Thai government progresses with these regulatory changes, plant-based food producers are bracing for potential shifts in how they can market and label their products, which could redefine the competitive landscape for alternative proteins in Thailand.
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