June 2, 2017

Milk Imitators May Be Getting Nervous

 |  By: Mike Opperman

The pressure is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do something about the use of the term “milk” by non-dairy, plant based imitators. The Dairy Pride Act would force FDA to properly label imitation dairy products. Virtually all dairy organizations support the tougher standards, including a new resolution passed at the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments in support of the proper use of milk labels. In his monthly CEO Corner Column, National Milk Producers Federation CEO Jim Mulhern says the time is now for FDA to take action.

The push by the industry must be making an impact. Opponents to label changes have discussed the Dairy Pride Act, Mulhern says, and have had meetings to review the potential compliance challenges their products may have with FDA’s standards of identity.  “Despite their cheeky public disregard of FDA policy,” Mulhern says, “these fake food marketers know full well that they are playing fast and loose with labeling regulations in a manner that exposes them to potential legal liability.” Mulhern says that assuming that FDA will continue to do nothing is shaky strategy.

So what happens from here? Mulhern says the industry shouldn’t deny consumers the opportunity to consume non-dairy drinks. However, labels need to be accurate. “Co-opting the name, imagery and packaging of real milk, while not offering the same nutritional content, is absolutely false and misleading marketing,” Mulhern says. “The imitators may try hard to deny their products’ origins through clever formulations and spashy packaging, but the FDA needs to deny them the use of dairy names.”