MAKERS of soya milk will have to change the name of their product following an EU decision to force the Government to accept a European Commission ruling.
The word 'milk' cannot now be used to describe the soya drink popular with people who are allergic to dairy products, and vegans. The ruling, which is a result of pressure from Europe's main dairy producing nations, has been condemned as 'Euro-lunacy' by UK manufacturers.
The junior agriculture minister, Michael Jack, yesterday said the Government had resisted the move by the EU Milk Management Committee. 'We had hoped to be able to continue using it (the description 'soya milk') but after the full and open discussion which we had pressed for, the vote of the member states went against us.'
Government lawyers advised that the UK would lose a legal battle threatened by the commission if it resisted the move.
But UK manufacturers, who face a huge bill for changing names and advertising as the term 'soya milk' is phased out, criticised the Government for caving in to pressure from Brussels, and vowed to fight the ruling.
Arthur Ling, director of the Folkestone-based soya milk makers Plamil, said: 'This is Euro-
lunacy.' The Commission's own rules exempted products such as coconut milk from the ruling on the grounds that this was the product's traditional name.
'We've been making the product soya milk since 1965. It's become the name of traditional usage,' Mr Ling said.
EU nations such as France and Germany have long argued that 'fake' milk products like soya milk can confuse consumers. But Mr Ling said: 'People are not that stupid.' About 100 million litres of soya milk are consumed each year in the UK, compared with almost 5,800 million litres of cows' milk.
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