Some lawmakers want the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop allowing oat, soy, and other nondairy, plant-based products to be labelled with dairy labels like milk and cheese.
What You Should Know
- The FDA’s draught guidance, “Labeling of Plant-based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements: Guidance for Industry,” allows plant-based dairy alternative products to include dairy-related labels such as “milk” and “cheese.”
- The FDA also recommends that alternative manufacturers include a voluntary nutrient statement that compares the product to dairy products.
- Following a survey of potential restrictions, the agency discovered that consumers knew the difference between the products and believed that similar branding did not cause confusion.
- Unsatisfied with the decision, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., reintroduced the DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would restrict the use of dairy terms.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, is outraged by the FDA’s refusal to end “mislabeling” of milk alternatives.
“It’s so clear that these plant-based alternatives are attempting to capitalise on dairy’s good name by implying that they are nutritionally equivalent,” Baldwin said. “And I don’t think that should be allowed, especially given how hard dairy farmers have to work to meet standards that have been part of the Food and Drug Administration regulatory structure for decades.”
According to the FDA, consumers understand the differences between the products, so similar branding should not cause confusion.
Baldwin reintroduced the Dairy Pride Act last month, requiring the FDA to crack down on non-dairy products with the words “milk” or “cheese” in their names.
“The Dairy Pride Act has widespread bipartisan support.” This session, we’re working on a farm bill. “And I’m hopeful that we can either pass the Dairy Pride Act as a standalone bill or incorporate it into our work on the farm bill, which will take a broad look at some of the challenges that agriculture is facing today,” Baldwin said.
The bill is co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wisconsin.
“Milk comes from a mammal — it’s that simple,” Van Orden explained. “The nutritional value of whole milk for child development and as an essential component of a healthy diet for life cannot be overstated.”
“Our dairy farmers work extremely hard to produce high-quality products, and consumers have a right to know what they are buying and consuming.” “The Dairy Pride Act will serve both of these functions admirably,” he added.
The bill did not pass in the previous Congress, but Baldwin believes it has a chance this time.
“While plant-based products are allowed to co-opt the label for their own benefit, Wisconsin dairy farmers produce the best, most nutritious milk on the market,” Kevin Krentz, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement.
Every five years, Congress and the White House agree on a farm bill to support the agriculture industry and federal nutrition programmes. The current bill will expire this year.
The FDA made a concession to the dairy industry in its draught guidance, asking manufacturers of soy, almond, and oat milk to provide additional labelling highlighting the nutritional differences between their drinks and traditional dairy from cows.