Plea in Delhi High Court says Soya milk, Almond milk are not "milk"; Challenges misbranding of plant beverages as prejudicial to dairy farmers
The Delhi High Court has issued notice in a petition alleging "misbranding" and "mislabelling" of plant-based foods/beverages extracted from almond, soya, oats, and other plant-based foods/beverages as "milk" and other dairy words such as "paneer," "curd," and "yoghurt" (National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India vs FSSAI & ors). The Food Safety And Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Commissioner of Food Safety for Delhi were asked to respond to the petition filed by the National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India by a single-judge bench led by Justice Rekha Palli (petitioner). Hershey India, which sells under the Sofit brand, Rakyan Beverages, which sells under the Raw Pressery brand, Drums Food International, which sells under the Epigamia brand, and Urban Platter were also sent with notices. These companies, according to the petitioner, are engaged in the manufacturing, packaging, marketing, promotion, and sale of plant-based foods and beverages. The petitioner is the governing body of the cooperative dairy industry, which produces and sells milk and milk products. The petitioner stated that plant-based beverage manufacturing companies passing off plant-based beverages as ‘milk' are gravely prejudiced and adversely affecting the right to livelihood and freedom of trade of millions of farmers involved in dairy farming and animal husbandry. It so prayed that necessary steps and action be taken against Hershey and other named entities. In the face of the rampant rise in the manufacturing and selling of plant-based foods/beverages as ‘milk,' the petitioner claimed that the authorities have failed to discharge their statutory obligations, in flagrant violation of the statutory restrictions. For the Petitioner, Senior Advocate Ciccu Mukhopadhaya attended alongside Advocates Abhishek Singh, J Amal Anand, Aashna Chawla, Kritika Chhatwal, Aakanksha Utaiah, and Divya Kumra. The petition was brought by Abhishek Singh and J Amal Anand of Abhishek Singh and J Amal Anand.