Welch urges FDA to stop illegal branding of ‘fake milk’
WASHINGTON — Continuing his advocacy to protect Vermont’s dairy farmers as well as the consumers’ right to know, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), joined by Mike Simpson (R-ID) and 23 other members of Congress, today urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to exercise its legal authority to investigate and take action against the manufacturers of products they falsely claim to be milk.
Dairy farmers continue to be buffeted by extreme financial hardships. Since 2014, milk prices have plunged 40 percent. During that same time, there has been a surge in the mislabeling of imitation “milk” products, including beverages produced from almond, soy and rice.
In a bipartisan letter to the FDA, Welch and his colleagues objected to the mislabeling of imitation plant-based products that do not have the unique attributes and nutritional value of milk, yet are marketed as milk.
“While consumers are entitled to choose imitation products, it is misleading and illegal for manufacturers of these items to profit from the “milk” name,” said Welch and his colleagues. “These products should be allowed on the market only when accurately labeled. 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’.”
“Thanks to Congressman Welch for spearheading this effort to support our dairy sector,” said Leon Berthiaume, CEO of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Inc. “Proper labeling of milk is of utmost importance to our industry and dairy farmers. Milk has its own unique, positive attributes that must be clearly communicated to consumers.”
“While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery; dairy imitators do not naturally provide the same level of nutrition to the people buying them as milk does,” President and CEO of International Dairy Foods Association Michael Dykes said. “Non-dairy beverages can mislead people into thinking that these products are comparable replacements for milk when in fact most are nutritionally inferior.”
“You haven’t ‘got milk’ if it comes from a seed, nut or bean,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation. “In the many years since we first raised concerns about the 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 have been on the books for years.”
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