Canadian vegan cheese shop told to stop using the word 'cheese' on packaging

Feb 19 2019, 6:44 pm

Popular Vancouver vegan cheese shop Blue Heron Creamery has found itself in the centre of a conversation around the use of dairy reference terms when it comes to packaging its plant-based offerings.

Chef and co-owner Karen McAthy is seeking clarity after a complaint was brought to the  team’s attention by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency — asking the brand to refrain from using the word cheese in all marketing and its website. It happened January 21, the day before Canada’s new Food Guide dropped.

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McAthy responded by asking if Blue Heron could include “distinguishing modifiers such as 100% plant-based or dairy-free” before the product name — but the CFIA “have said no.”


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The business owner told Daily Hive that oddly, in emails back and forth to clarify what they are able to do, the CFIA said that “100% dairy free coconut burrata” on a specific cheese is acceptable, but not the word cheese.

“We do not use the word cheese on our packaging, but it is on our website, although we believe that by saying that we are 100% dairy free, plant-based, and vegan is clear enough distinction,” said McAthy.


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While Blue Heron Creamery has not been asked to halt production, they have several products that currently reference dairy terms including the following:

  • Almond Bocconcini
  • Coconut Burrata
  • Cultured Butter
  • Mostarda Cheddar

“Our general goal has been to develop our own styles and reference terms but have used some dairy reference terms in certain cases,” said McAthy.

Blue Heron plans to comply with the CFIA regulations when it comes to labeling plant-based products, while it simultaneously seeks “avenues for broadening the discussion regarding the use of the ‘common name’ cheese.”

Among other things, McAthy aims to clarify why some companies that have CFIA approval “can still use ‘cheese’ so long as a modifier is involved, but that we [Blue Heron Creamery] are being treated differently.”