The prospective framework for plant-based beverages and foods (“Framework”) is under discussion by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (“Ministry”). Contributions can be made by anyone, individually or via association. The deadline to send them is from 7.3.23 to 9.16.23.
The Framework is essential and relevant because it is the first rule to address the theme in Brazil. Add to that the quantity of plant-based beverages and foods (“Products”) available in Brazilian markets: an entire supermarket section is intended for Products. Big and small companies produce the Products. The mindset of thinking about food and conscious choices can be responsible for the boom of the Products.
The Framework has rules corresponding to the regulated sector: Products must have quality and be secure to consumers; Products must be registered before the Ministry; Products must orient consumers with special considerations. However, the Framework needs adjustments when granting the right of information to consumers: the label of Products seems controversial.
The Ministry dedicated an entire chapter to the label of Products, especially to the sales of domination. The Framework allows two ways to name Products: (1) “vegetable analog of [include the sales denomination of the related animal food]”; or (2) “[denomination of the food in the animal world] vegetable”. Also, the Framework prohibits words, denominations, and the like that may mislead the consumer.
Let’s think about “milk”. According to the Framework, “milk” plant-based can be named a “vegetable analog of milk” or “milk vegetable”. However, vegetable milk does not exist in nature nor Brazilian legislation. Milk comes from animals. In the mentioned discussion, the consumer can be misled about the characteristics of the food and could not be well and accurately informed about the Product.
The discussion involves how to name Products and guarantees the right to information. This discussion is similar around the world. For example, France edited a Decree (Decree 947/22) prohibiting the use of names referring to meat on Products, with few exceptions.
Finally, companies would have 180 days to adapt to the Framework. However, the Framework is a non-executable rule, meaning some aspects must have additional rulings. Considering the need for posterior regulation, the deadline for adapting may be questioned.
Once the Framework discussion ends, the Ministry will evaluate all contributions, accepting or rejecting them. The last step is enacting the final version of the Framework. It is important to note that the Framework is mutable, being the Ministry competent to change it even after its first publication.