Even if you prefer authentic moo juice, you’ve probably at least encountered some products that claim to be milk but don’t come from a cow. Soy and nuts are among the most common examples … and the dairy industry has tried on multiple occasions to crack down on the potentially misleading use of the word “milk.”
The latest effort
For its part, the Food and Drug Administration has provided the not-so-appetizing phrase “lacteal secretions of cows” to serve as the basic definition for dairy beverages — aka milk. And it’s this definition that dairy industry leaders want lawmakers to use in developing new restrictions on when the word can be used on product labels.
But the FDA threw the industry a curveball earlier this year when it determined that plant-based beverages can use “milk” in their names, arguing that consumers are broadly aware that these products are different from dairy milk.
That only redoubled the effort from dairy advocacy groups to push for new legislation — specifically the DAIRY PRIDE Act, which is designed to prohibit “milk” from being used on any label for a non-dairy beverage.
Where things stand
Politicians in dairy-producing states have attempted to pass similar bills in the past, including in 2017 when the effort stalled. But National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern believes the time is right to try again.
He said the proposed bill “is needed more than ever,” adding that the FDA hasn’t done enough to address “the proven confusion among consumers created when plant-based beverages steal dairy terms to make their products appear healthier than they really are.”
Not everyone in the industry supports the legislation, though, and there’s plenty of uncertainty about whether it will find any more success this year as part of a legislative farm bill reauthorization.