WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-ID) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are standing up for American dairy farmers by reintroducing bipartisan legislation today to combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products. The Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (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. The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Angus King (I-ME), and it has also been introduced in the House today by Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Mike Simpson (R-ID).
Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals. Although existing federal regulations are clear, the FDA has not enforced these labeling regulations and the mislabeling of products as ‘milk’, ‘yogurt’ and ‘cheese’ has increased rapidly. This hurts dairy farmers that work tirelessly to ensure their 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 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.
“Idaho’s dairy farmers work hard to meet high FDA standards while others misuse the term “dairy” but aren’t subjected to the same rigorous requirements. This is not right,” said Senator Risch. “The nutritional value found in dairy is not replicated by imitation products, and it’s time our labeling requirements reflect that.”
“Idaho is one of the nation’s largest milk- and cheese-producing states,” said Senator Crapo. “Our dairy producers and processors are a large part of our state’s economy, and we need to ensure that the thorough work they do to produce quality, nutritional dairy is not challenged by inaccurately-labeled products.”
“Dairy farmers in Wisconsin work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality,” said Senator Baldwin. “Imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name for their own benefit, which is against the law and must be enforced. Mislabeling of plant-based products as ‘milk’ hurts our dairy farmers. That’s why I’m reintroducing the DAIRY PRIDE Act to take a stand for Wisconsin farmers and the quality products they make.”
“For too long, the FDA has turned a blind eye to the misbranding of imitation dairy products, despite the decades-old federal law that milk comes from animals, not vegetables or nuts. None of these imitators provides the same high quality and quantity of nutrition offered by real milk. Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act, coauthored by Senator Risch, will simply ensure that FDA enforces current law by requiring marketers of these imitation products to call them something other than milk,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.
Senators Risch, Crapo and a bipartisan group of Senators also wrote to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb today to encourage the agency to move forward quickly to begin enforcing FDA’s Standards of Identity against imitation products that use dairy’s good name for their own benefit. If the agency fails to act, the DAIRY PRIDE Act would require them to resolve this issue within 90 days. The letter is available here.
More information on the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act is available here.