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DAIRY PRIDE Act pushes back against non-dairy products that are mislabeled as milk, yogurt and cheese

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The DAIRY PRIDE Act, legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Risch (R-ID) to combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products, was recently endorsed by the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. The DAIRY PRIDE Act 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.

“It seems common-sense: goods labeled as dairy products should, without question, be actual dairy products,” said Senator Risch. “Unfortunately, the use of the term ‘dairy’ has been misused by imitation products and, in some cases, appeared on labels where it should not have. This legislation is simple and rights that wrongdoing for the dairy industry.”

“I’m proud to take this bipartisan stand for America’s dairy farmers with my colleague, Senator Risch,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the bill's original sponsor. “Dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Idaho and every corner of America work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality. Imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name for their own benefit, and our legislation will help fix that.”

According to the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, the state of Idaho received $10.4 billion economic output in sales from the dairy industry in 2015. The association recently endorsed this bill, stating: “Dairy producers in Idaho strongly support transparency when it comes to informing consumers about our products,” said Bob Naerebout, Executive Director of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. “Federal standards of identity for foods have been on the books for decades to assure consumers that they are getting the nutrition they expect when they purchase products labeled ‘milk,’ ‘yogurt’ and ‘cheese.’ Plant-based products simply do not deliver the nutrition that milk and products made from milk do.  The Idaho Dairymen’s Association applauds Senator Risch for his leadership on this effort to improve transparency for consumers about the dairy foods they buy.”

Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals. Although existing federal regulation are clear, the FDA has not enforced these labeling regulations and the mislabeling of products as ‘milk’, ‘yogurt’ and ‘cheese’ has increased rapidly. 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 nutrition 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.