TURKEY – Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has made an unprecedented move to officially ban the production and sale of vegan cheese alternatives in the country.

This is a step further considering that Turkey had already banned the use of the word “cheese” to describe dairy-free alternatives framing it as misleading to consumers.

In its latest update to the Turkish Codex Food Regulation, the ministry stated that “products that give the impression of cheese cannot be produced using vegetable oil or other food ingredients.”

The new amendment notes that even vacuum packaging is evocative of traditional dairy cheese and could mislead consumers.

According to the Vegan Association of Turkey (TVD), producers of vegan cheese have recently reported that they can no longer sell their products and that factories were to be inspected.

According to the Association, companies producing vegan cheese are being fined and vegan cheese products have been withdrawn from the market, leaving consumers without access to these products.

As such, TVD has condemned the directive and has filed a lawsuit against the Turkish Ministry for banning the production and sale of vegan cheese.

TVD considers the ban a violation and loss of rights for consumers and manufacturers across the country.

TVD said: “The fact that the necessary clarification has not been made even about the similarity criteria, which is the basis of the said ban, creates an open-ended area of pressure and action for the inspectors/punishers operating in this field.”

“With this new substance, which has no consistent or plausible basis, stopping vegan cheese production and recalling vegan cheese from the market constitutes a violation of both national and international law.”

The Association added that it is determined to explore all avenues to the fullest to find redress against these obscure prohibitions, which are far from being convincing for producers and consumers and have been created on some unfair grounds.

The vegan cheese ban in Turkey is the latest in a growing number of bans and lawsuits regarding the making and labeling of vegan and plant-based products.

Recently, France banned the use of meaty terms like “steak” and “burger” on plant-based foods produced in the country, a ruling that was backed by the French animal agriculture lobby groups.

Last month, South Africa also announced the banning of meaty terms such as ‘veggie biltong”, “mushroom biltong”, “plant-based meatballs” and “vegan nuggets” to describe plant-based foods from June 22nd.

The decree extended to any food items using traditional names to describe plant-based meats will be removed from the shelves.

Furthermore, restrictions are also being considered in Belgium, which could mean ‘vegetarian mincemeat’ and ‘plant-based chicken pieces’ could soon be off the table.

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