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Letter builds on longstanding effort to stand up for farmers and stop the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products using dairy names

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), with a bipartisan group of colleagues, called out the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hurting dairy farmers by allowing non-dairy lab-grown products to illegally label their products with dairy terms. The bipartisan group highlighted the proliferation of imitation products, specifically the new cell-based, lab-grown imitators that are using dairy terms like milk, cheese, and yogurt.

“For decades FDA has allowed non-dairy products to illegally use dairy terms to label their imitation products, most of which are nutritionally inferior to the real dairy foods they purport to emulate,” wrote the Senators in a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf. “Public health is now facing a new, additional perpetrator – Cell-based dairy imitation products. These are synthetically created options posing as natural foods, many of which are nutritionally inferior to the dairy products they imitate.”

Current FDA regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals, however, the FDA has failed to enforce these regulations, allowing non-dairy products to use dairy names, leading to the rapid growth of mislabeled alternative products that contain a range of ingredients and nutrients that are often not equivalent to the nutritional content of dairy products – including cell-based, synthetic dairy imitation products. By using dairy names like milk, these synthetic products are posing as natural foods, clearly violating the FDA’s standards of identity, which requires the food product be made from milk from an animal.

“It is critical that FDA intervene to prevent this new violation committed by cell-based foods from compounding the harm Americans are already experiencing from FDA’s decades of inaction on plant-based mislabeling,” wrote the Senators. “New developments in food science should advance new and innovative products, not cause deeper injury to public health. It is FDA’s job to ensure a stable and transparent marketplace to support safe innovation while protecting Americans.”

Risch and Baldwin have been leading the charge for years to get the FDA to properly enforce their own guidance on dairy labeling, introducing the bipartisan DAIIRY PRIDE Act again this year – bipartisan legislation to combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products using dairy names. In May, they sent a letter to the FDA slamming the Biden Administration’s misguided draft guidance that allows non-dairy product imitators to use dairy names, like milk, when labeling their products.

In addition to Senators Risch and Baldwin, the letter was co-signed by Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

The full letter is available here.

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