FDA to Take “Very Close and Fresh Look” at Imitation Dairy Products
Scott Gottlieb, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, told a Senate panel this week that his agency will be “taking a very close and fresh look” at imitation, plant-derived foods labeled with dairy-specific terms.
Gottlieb admitted FDA has “exercised enforcement discretion” in the past in not holding food marketers to federal standards of identity even as these products have proliferated in the dairy case over the past 20 years. The FDA Commissioner’s comments came in response to questions by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday. He said FDA is requesting more information to inform its next steps.
Baldwin replied that there is no need for “further study. What we need is the FDA to act, and to issue guidance on enforcement of existing dairy standards of identity.”
Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO, agreed, saying in a statement that FDA “must stop turning a blind eye toward violations of food labeling laws. It needs to use more enforcement, and less discretion, as dozens of brands flagrantly violate government requirements.”
Mulhern also thanked Sen. Baldwin “for holding FDA accountable.” Last year, Baldwin introduced the The DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would compel FDA to adopt a timetable for enforcement action on mislabeled dairy products.
You can listen to the Senate testimony here.