Girl pouring milk into glass.
December 16, 2016

Congressmen Ask FDA to Enforce Milk Labeling Standards

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Thirty four members of Congress wrote to Robert Califf, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), asking that FDA strictly enforce milk labeling laws when it comes to plant-based drinks. The letter was written by Reps. Mike Simpson (Rep., Ida.) and Peter Welch (Dem., Vt.) and co-signed by 32 members of the House of Represenatives.

In order to be labeled as milk, federal standards of identity require beverages and foods must be made from animal sources.

“In recent years, there has been a tremendous growth in the sale of plant-based products often labeled as ‘milk,’” they write. Sales of some of these products have grown 250% over the past five years to more than $894.6 million while milk sales have dropped 7% in 2015 alone.

“While consumers are entitled to choose imitation products, it is misleading and illegal for manufacturers of these items to profit from the “milk” name,” add the Congressmen and women. “We urge FDA to enforce this matter by requiring plant-based products to adopt a more appropriate name that does not include the word ‘milk.’”

Dairy organizations praised the letter. “You haven’t ‘got milk’ if it comes from a seed, nut or bean,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “In the many years since we first raised concerns about misbranding of these products, we’ve seen an explosion of imitators attaching the word ‘milk’ to everything from hemp to peas to algae. We don’t need new regulations on this issue, we just need FDA to enforce those that been on the books for years.”

Michael Dykes, president of CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, notes that non-dairy beverages “can mislead people into thinking these products are comparable replacements for milk, when in fact most are nutritionally inferior.”