Miyoko’s Kitchen In An Out Of Court Settlement For Lawsuit Against Its Plant-Based Butter

A lawsuit was instituted last year against Miyoko’s Kitchen regarding its use of the word “butter” to describe their plant-based product has been settled.

Butters should be derived from milk and cream

The class-action lawsuit that was brought by Jasmine Brown accused the vegan brand of refereeing to their plant-based product as butter yet it is made from sunflower oil, coconut oil, and cashew nuts and it lacks calcium, vitamin A and D thus it does not meet the standard of FDA to be referred as butter. According to the FDA, standard butter is supposed to be more than 80% milk fat. According to the Plaintiff, American consumers know that butter is exclusively produced from cream and milk or both.

Miyoko Schinner, the founder of the company, said that she expected that she would attract attention by using the term butter and she wanted to taste waters. She said that at some point you would have to take the risk instead of hiding behind the curtain by going out to say who you are and what you are doing and that is the path she chose.

Schinner says that consumers cannot get confused by the use of the term butter because other plant-based products use terms like cheese, yogurt, and milk but are usually complemented with a description that says they are pure plant products and are not derived from dairy milk. Equally, the Miyoko’s uncultured butter is derived from plants, and the packaging is clearly labeled that is vegan butter.

Miyoko will not change the label of their butter

On the settlement, the founder said that they had been requested not to discuss the suit, but an agreement was reached satisfactorily for both parties. She, however, said that the settlement was very surprising because it did not benefit the plaintiff or the lawyer stating that it was one that could make you happy, but it was unfortunate she couldn’t discuss the details. Since the vegan brand didn’t get a court settlement, they might as well be at risk of similar lawsuits.

Regarding whether there are plans to make changes on the packaging and labels, she said that for now there are no changes they will be making on the labels of the uncultured butter.

Use of dairy terms to describe plant-based products taken as deceiving

In the last decade, plant-based products have gain traction in the market, and there has been a suggestion from the dairy industry urging the FDA to reserve dairy terms exclusively for animal products. Dairy products and dairy alternatives’ regulations are very specific, which made Miyoko Kitchen’s words like creamery and butter at risk.

It is not the dairy industry that is dealing with issues dealing with labelling, but it an issue that plant-based vegan options are facing. In 2015 the FDA was petitioned by the Association for Dressing and Sauces to take action against Just Mayo which for confusing consumers that it was mayonnaise without eggs. Back in 2014 Unilever instigated a suit against Hampton Creek the parent company of Just Mayo on the same issue but they later dropped the litigation following consumer backlash.