The congressional spending bill signed by the President on March 23 directs the FDA to take action against imitation dairy foods, “representing a victory for farmers and consumers alike,” said the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in a response to the bill.
The omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 includes report language instructing FDA to enforce labeling standards affecting dairy imitators. NMPF said the omnibus language builds on the Dairy Pride Act (DPA), a bipartisan bill introduced last year in both chambers of Congress to compel FDA to act against dairy imitations.
The omnibus provision expresses Congress’ concern that certain plant-based beverages are not properly labeled. Given the existing definition of milk as a product of a dairy animal, NMPF said that Congress’ instructions to FDA should restrict the ability of beverages made from plant foods from using the term “milk” on their labels. This also will affect products misusing other dairy food names such as “cheese” and “yogurt” that are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations and cited in the congressional bill.
The congressional directive to FDA “will stem the flagrant misuse of the word ‘milk’ on products that are, by FDA’s own definition, not milk nor are made from milk,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Real milk is well-known for its strong nutritional contributions, which is why the fake food marketers want so badly to continue using dairy terms on dozens of different plant powder formulations. But these products are pale replicas, not an acceptable substitute for real milk from a nutritional standpoint. This measure will help end the confusion that just co-opting a word somehow makes a food nutritionally equivalent.”
NMPF has worked since early 2017 with members of both the House and Senate on a bipartisan basis to build support on Capitol Hill for the DPA provisions. The language in the omnibus bill gives FDA 180 days from the date of enactment of the measure to issue guidance for how the dairy standards will be implemented and enforced.