Dairy organizations applauded the reintroduction of the Dairy Pride Act by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho). The legislation would require FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days. The proposal, if approved, would mean that nondairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants and algae could no longer be mislabeled with dairy terms such as milk, yogurt or cheese, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) noted.
Baldwin first introduced the bill in 2017 and is again pushing for its passage.
WCMA said a recent research study commissioned by WCMA, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative shows the need for FDA enforcement, as it found that labeling causes consumer confusion over whether plant-based products are actually dairy foods and whether they offer the same nutritional value.
“When someone buys cheese, they’re expecting that product to have been made with real milk, not a nut or a bean,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA’s executive director. “WCMA members support Sen. Baldwin’s work to enforce labeling standards and help consumers make well-informed choices at the grocery store.”
WCMA said it also filed comments directly with the FDA expressing strong opposition to the use of dairy labels on plant-based products and requesting that the agency enforce labeling standards to prevent this practice.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) also voiced strong support for the Dairy Pride Act, calling it another means toward a crucial end for consumers: the end of mislabeled non-dairy products as “milks” in the marketplace.
“We hope that the FDA will soon do the right thing by updating and enforcing rules that aid consumers by providing clear, accurate labeling on what is, and what isn’t, milk, and we are ready to help the agency in any way we can,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF. “This bipartisan, bicameral legislative effort demonstrates strong support within Congress for fixing this problem, and we commend these lawmakers for laying down this important marker.”