Nut Milk is Not Milk

The Oxford Dictionary defines "dairy" as an opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young.  

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Vermont Senator Peter Welch and other members of Congress want to make sure that liquids derived from other sources, like nuts and plants, cannot use words like "milk" or "yogurt" in their product descriptions.

Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed guidance last week allowing nut, oat, soy, and other non-dairy products to use the name "milk,”  Welch and others introduced bipartisan legislation to combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products using dairy names. 

The Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (DAIRY PRIDE Act) of 2023 would require non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants, and algae to no longer be mislabeled with dairy terms such as milk, yogurt or cheese.

“Our dairy farms are the heart of Vermont’s economy, our history, and our communities.  The work they do should be protected and supported. That’s why I’m proud to join Senator Baldwin in introducing the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act,” said Senator Welch. “This bill will give our farmers much needed support and correct FDA’s misguided efforts to allow non-dairy products to use dairy names—giving dairy farmers the protections they need to thrive.”

Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals, however, last week the FDA released ill-advised draft guidance allowing plant-based products to continue to use dairy terms despite not containing dairy, nor having the nutritional value of dairy products.

The FDA’s anti-dairy draft guidance contradicts their own regulation and definitions, allowing non-dairy products to use dairy names, violating the Administrative Procedure Act, and hurting dairy farmers and producers, who work tirelessly to ensure their Made in Wisconsin dairy products meet FDA standards and provide the public with nutritious food. It has also led to the proliferation of mislabeled alternative products that contain a range of ingredients and nutrients that are often not equivalent to the nutritional content of dairy products.

The DAIRY PRIDE Act would require the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days and require the FDA to report to Congress two years after enactment to hold the agency accountable for this update in their enforcement obligations. The legislation would also nullify any guidance that is not consistent with dairy standards of identity, including the one released last week.

Full text of this legislation can be found here.

An online version of this release is available here.