Monday, May 20, 2019

Does the term "vegan butter" mislead consumers?

Brown v Miyoko's Kitchen, Inc.
Eastern District of New York

Miyoko's Kitchen vegan butter is made from non-milk ingredients.  The name says VEGAN, after all.


But Jasmine Brown contends the labeling is misleading because consumers who see the word “butter” will assume it contains milk, which in turn means it contains calcium and other nutrients.  In fact, the US government requires that any product sold as “butter” must contain at least 80% milk fat.  Therefore, she believes it should be labeled as margarine, instead of butter.

She filed a federal complaint in New York on October 30, 2018.

Miyoko's Kitchen asserts that consumers are not mislead by “rice milk” or “soy cheese” or other similar names, so “vegan butter” is also not confusing or misleading.

“Unlike other lawsuits against plant-based alternative foods, this lawsuit doesn’t allege that consumers will be confused between “real” butter and vegan butter. Instead, it argues that consumers are being misled because they would expect that Miyoko’s products “are nutritionally equivalent to butter or margarine, when they are inferior — lacking vitamin A, D, E and calcium.’”​

The case was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff with prejudice on February 28, 2019.  A voluntary dismissal with prejudice often means the parties reached a settlement, usually confidential.  In this case, that's what happened.


  1. There's a similar thing happening over here at the moment with milk. I haven't really followed it but I think the dairy industry are trying to get non-animal milks to be called something else.

    1. Interesting. I wonder if they are independent occurrences or if there's one person behind all of it.