NMPF Takes on Pea ‘Milk’
If it’s nut one thing, it’s another. The National Milk Producers Federation, who has long chided the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its lax enforcement of standards of identity for nut-based beverages, is now taking on pea powdered-based beverages from Campbell Foods.
Campbell’s Bolthouse brand pea-based beverage uses the word “MILK” on the center of its packaging, and the beverage is frequently slotted in the dairy case next to cow’s milk. This “lack of segregation, combined with the deliberate attempt to mislead consumers with the prominent use of the term ‘MILK’ on the label,” can easily confuse consumers that the pea-based product is simply another brand of cow’s milk, NMPF said in a letter sent to FDA this week.
“Bolthouse shouldn’t deceive consumers in this way,” says Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “FDA needs to immediately stop Campbell’s egregious violation of longstanding food labeling laws.”
The pea-based beverage attempts to replicate regular milk’s color, taste and mouthfeel. But compared to milk’s three ingredients, says Mulhern, the Bolthouse product used 14 ingredients, all added during factory processing. “No matter how much gum and vitamin or mineral supplements you add to a product, it will never replace milk’s natural goodness,” says Beth Briczinski, NMPF’s VP of dairy foods and nutrition.
Two years ago, NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association contacted Campbell Foods before it launched the pea-based beverage, telling the company the product did not adhere to federal standards of identity. The dairy industry’s outreach “unfortunately has fallen on deaf ears, requiring us to bring this matter to the attention of the FDA,” says Mulhern.