The National Milk Producer’s Federation has submitted a petition to the FDA with suggestions for nondairy food labeling. They’re pushing for more transparency in labeling and prompt enforcement against those that break the rules, and insist that they’re not advocating for a “ban” on the use of dairy terms.
NMPF Submits Petition
Nicole Heslip of Brownfield Ag News provided a quick update on the ongoing milk labeling saga. The National Milk Producer’s Federation (NMPF) recently filed a citizen’s petition suggesting that the FDA take action against improper nondairy food labeling. NMPF Executive Vice President Tom Balmer says many products are trying to take advantage of milk’s healthy reputation, and breaking current laws.
“Products that are milk-like or yogurt-like are not actually milk or yogurt and the distinctions are critical to inform decision making by consumers.”
NMPF outlined a labeling solution for the FDA.
Clarifications on Labeling Needed
An article from the Dairy Business news team also covered the story. The NMPF petition was submitted under the FDA’s public comment period that just recently closed. In it, NMPF reinforces current FDA labeling regulations and suggests some clarifications. They argue that more transparency in labeling will reduce consumer harm and confusion over nutritional content.
The petition is available here.
“This petition lays out a constructive solution to the false and misleading labeling practices existing in the marketplace today, and provides clear, truthful and understandable labeling options for marketers of plant-based imitation dairy products.”
“Fast and Loose”
Existing FDA rules state that foods are required to be labeled as “imitation” if they reference a standardized dairy food but do not have the same nutritional value. For products with the same nutritional value, words like “substitute” and “alternative” are to be used.
“Marketers of plant-based foods that are designed to resemble standardized dairy foods actually have several labeling options under current FDA regulations, as we point out in this petition,” Balmer said. “The unfortunate reality today is that many of them are playing fast and loose with the labeling rules to mask their nutritional inferiority to real dairy products.”
Not a Ban
NMPF asks FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb to,
“Take prompt enforcement action against misbranded non-dairy foods that substitute for and resemble reference standardized dairy food(s) (e.g., milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, butter), yet are nutritionally inferior to such reference standardized dairy foods.”
Balmer is insistent that NMPF isn’t advocating for bans on the usage of dairy terms.
“It simply relies on proper disclosures that allow for appropriate, truthful, non-misleading messaging. In the end, products that are ‘milk-like’ or ‘yogurt-like’ are not actual milk or yogurt – and the nutritional distinctions are critical to informed consumer decision-making. That’s what our petition is all about.”