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New bill prevents alternative beverages from being called ‘milk’

New bill prevents alternative beverages from being called ‘milk’

The Dairy Pride Act would go against a recent FDA decision

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate would prevent beverages and dairy products from alternative sources from using dairy terminology.

The Defending Against Imitations and Replacement of Yogurt, Milk and Cheese to Promote the Intake of Dairy Everyday Act, also known as the Dairy Pride Act, would make it illegal for products made from nuts, rice or other sources to be labelled and sold the same way traditional dairy products are.

“This bill would protect the integrity of milk by requiring foods that make an inaccurate claim about milk contents to be considered “misbranded” and subject to enforcement,” Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said in a bill summary. “The (bill) would require the (Food and Drug Administration) to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days.”

If passed, this piece of legislation would force the reversal of a recent FDA ruling.

In February, the FDA issued a draft guidance stating plant-based milk alternatives can be sold and labelled as milk.

These products can be displayed this way because consumers understand the difference, the FDA said.

Shoppers “understand that plant-based milk alternatives do not contain milk when shopping for various types of products labeled with the term “milk,”” the FDA said in its ruling.

But the FDA’s decision goes against its own rules.

FDA regulations state that “milk is the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.”

This potential confusion is why Congress needs to pass the Dairy Pride Act, said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

The FDA’s guidance, “while taking steps in the right direction, ultimately doesn’t remedy the problem it seeks to solve, which is the proven confusion among consumers created when plant-based beverages steal dairy terms to make their products appear healthier than they really are,” he said in a statement.

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