The draft law on imitating dairy products constitutes a threat to the responsible business
After a detailed analysis, the experts of the EBA Dairy Committee concluded that the draft law No.3516 imposes risks on the responsible businesses. Thus, instead of the claimed positive impact and strengthened consumer protection, the draft law complicates working conditions for conscientious producers and does not solve the problem of counterfeiting in the dairy market.
This draft law introduces the term “food imitating milk and dairy products” and sets requirements for their labeling and distribution. Business representatives believe that such changes can create more difficulties and conflicting requirements for market participants.
According to the Law on Milk, it is prohibited to use fats and proteins of non-dairy origin, as well as stabilizers and preservatives in the production of traditional dairy products, such as butter, cheese, acidophilus, curd, fermented milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, kefir. Thus, it is forbidden to replace milk fat and milk protein with cheap ingredients, such as palm oil which is commonly used in counterfeit products. Today, all honest manufacturers comply with this fundamental requirement. At the same time, it is allowed to use (but not for a replacement!) vegetable fats in the production of yogurt, namely: vegetable fillers (nuts, chocolate, cookies, biscuits), which are supplementary ingredients to dairy products and in no case replace milk fat and protein.
First, with the adoption of this draft law, producers will not be able to classify yogurts as dairy products, as it is proposed to ban the use of fats and proteins of non-dairy origin in all dairy products, not just traditional ones. Conscientious producers will be forced to label yogurts as a non-dairy product, or rather as a ” food imitating milk and dairy products.”
Secondly, according to the Law on Milk, all honest and conscientious producers already indicate in their product labeling all components (including vegetable fats) which do not replace the components of milk. Unfortunately, dishonest producers do not follow this requirement. Thus, the draft law proposes an additional requirement to provide reliable information on the composition of products. However, the business considers that it will not solve the situation with unscrupulous behavior and violation of current legislation in the dairy market.
Third, the definition ” food imitating dairy products ” may also include lactose-free dairy products, which are a variety of dairy, as well as plant-based products, which constitute a separate category, however, they can be mistakenly classified as the dairy product based on their functional purposes (for example, tofu). Therefore, the proposed definition will significantly complicate the production and implementation of the abovementioned products.
Fourth, the draft law also requires placing dairy products separately from the ones imitating milk and dairy products in different sections or shelves. It can be problematic to fulfill this requirement in small spaces, particularly, in rural shops, kiosks, tents, shops at gas stations, etc.
Unfortunately, any efforts to improve food legislation are offset by unscrupulous producers who do not comply with the requirements. The business supports the desire of MPs to strengthen consumer protection and increase awareness of the products they consume. However, the current initiative will only make it more difficult to produce certain dairy products and create additional financial costs for responsible market participants. Besides, the current Ukrainian legislation on food is of high quality according to the EBA experts. Instead, the focus should be shifted to the effective implementation of this legislation and proper monitoring of compliance with its norms.
Given the abovementioned risks of the draft law No.3516, the European Business Association asks MPs to withdraw this legislative initiative. We hope the voice of business will be heard!
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