by Benjamin Yount
Unsurprisingly, dairy and other farm groups in America’s Dairyland are not happy that the federal government wants to allow other people to use the term “milk.”
The FDA this week released its draft guidance on so-called milk alternatives.
“The FDA determined that consumers generally understand that [plant-based milk alternatives] do not contain milk and choose to purchase PBMA because they are not milk,” the FDA’s draft guidance states. “However, many consumers may not be aware of the nutritional differences between milk and PBMA products.”
The Edge Dairy Cooperative, one of Wisconsin’s largest dairy groups, on Wednesday blasted plant-based milks as “inferior.”
“The nutritional benefits of dairy products are superior to imitation products, and consumers should be well-informed using proper labeling and terms. Dairy foods, including milk, are part of a healthy eating pattern and provide consumers with healthy and nutritious food options,” Edge President Brody Stapel said.
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau also said milk alternatives are trying to use the name “milk” to infer a health benefit that may not be there.
“Consumers choose milk because it is a trusted term associated with quality and nutrition. This trust has been built over generations of Wisconsin dairy farmers who take pride in producing a quality product with regulations that reflect that quality,” Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Krentz said. “Plant-based milk alternatives are not milk. They aren’t held to the same regulations and therefore should not be labeled as milk.”
Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin took it a step further, and accused plant-based milk makers of trying to piggyback on milk’s place in America’s refrigerators.
“America’s dairy farmers work hard to produce second-to-none products with the highest nutritional value, and plant-based products should not be getting away with using their good name,” Baldwin said in a letter to the FDA this week. “Since the FDA is failing to enforce its own definitions for dairy terminology and stop imitation products from deceiving consumers, we will be reintroducing our DAIRY PRIDE Act to stand up for America’s dairy farmers and the quality products they make.”
Baldwin introduced the Dairy Pride Act back in 2019, but it has yet to move forward on Capitol Hill.
The FDA’s new guidance on plant-based milk alternatives is now open for public comment.
Milk producers in Wisconsin are expected to make their feelings known, officially, in the coming weeks.
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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Dairy Cows” by Rawpixel Ltd. CC BY 2.0.