Russia proposes changes to dairy vs. non -dairy labelling to WTO

The Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), the regulatory body of Russia, has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of amendments seeking to distinguish between dairy products with or without milk fat substitutes. The proposed amendments seek to distinguish between milk and dairy products through revised definitions and relabeling them as with, or without, the addition of milk fat substitutes. The draft describes new rules and standards for labeling such products, including branding, descriptions, and label placement. For example, the draft bans using dairy terms in the names of products containing any milk fat substitute. For example, the draft regulations require the label to describe such a product as “milk product with milk fat substitute produced according to ice-cream technology” or “milk-containing product with milk fat substitute made according to the processed cheese production process. Russia is seeking to bar almost all uses of dairy product names such as butter, cheese, and ice cream if the product contains a non-dairy milk fat substitute. For instance, the use of the term “butter” is not allowed in the product or brand names of butter substitutes such as margarine or non-dairy butter products. Similarly, terms such as “milk”, “ice cream”, and “plombir” (a Russian specialty ice cream) are not allowed on the labelling of ice cream products with a milk fat substitute. The brand name and product description of a product with a non-dairy substitute must appear on the front of the packaging and be fully visible to the consumer from the store shelf. However, labeling of conventional dairy products only needs to be partially visible to consumers while on the shelf as long as the packaging provides the full product name and nutritional information. “In the name of milk-containing product with milk fat substitute the word ‘product’ can be replaced with a common technical term, characterizing product texture or structure (cream, paste, sauce, etc.),” the EEC stated. The EEC also specified that products containing a milk fat substitute must use at least a size 10 font on its packaging and must use contrasting colors for the fonts and the nutritional information. “In the case where the package size does not allow filling out the data filed with the information using the above font size, this information should be marked with the largest possible font size.” the proposal said.