NMPF: DAIRY PRIDE Act About Labeling Integrity
The National Milk Producers Federation said the new DAIRY PRIDE Act will ensure labeling integrity for dairy products. The legislation, recently reintroduced in the House and Senate, requires the Food and Drug Administration to enforce its own existing standards of identity on imitation dairy products. NMPF spokesperson Chris Galen said the bill would clear up the issue of consumer confusion.
“This is important legislation because it expresses the will of Congress that the Food and Drug Administration is not doing its job when it comes to enforcing existing standards that call for the accurate labeling of dairy foods, or in this case, foods that purport to be dairy like but are made from plants or seeds or beans or grains, and they don't have the same amount of nutrition that real dairy foods have, and that can lead to consumer confusion. In fact, there's plenty of evidence that confusion is growing as we see more of these products in the marketplace.”
Years of inaction by the FDA has led to more consumer confusion, according to Galen, who says the legislation shows Congress wants action on the issue.
“As the FDA has spun its wheels on this issue the past several years, we've seen more and more of these fake dairy foods in the marketplace, and of course we're also seeing them in the meat case as well with the imitation or plant-based products that call themselves meat. So, unless the regulators step in and put an end to this or at least try to clarify things like they should, according to the existing standards, the problem is going to continue to get worse.”
Galen said that for decades, FDA regulations have set specific standards for labelling dairy products, but the FDA is not enforcing those standards.
“And it's very clear that these products are supposed to be coming from a mammal made from the milk or cream of animals. So, the problem is, is that people may go to the grocery store and say, oh this is a milk, it's just like the other milk that I used to drink growing up, cow's milk, because it says it on the package. But what we found consistently is that these products are inconsistent, and they don't measure up to the real amounts of protein and vitamins and minerals contained in every glass of real milk. And that's where this becomes, not just a labeling spat, but it becomes a public health concern. And it's even caught the eye of medical and health groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, who are voicing concerns that the amount of confusion in the marketplace, could have negative effects on public health.”
President Biden has yet to nominate an FDA Commissioner. Once one is named, Galen said the issue will hopefully be discussed during the nominee’s confirmation hearing.
“In addition to helping build support in the House and the Senate for the Dairy Pride Act legislation, we're also going to be looking to the FDA for action on this. And when there is a next FDA commissioner nominated, we hope to use the confirmation hearing to drive home the point that the FDA should not be able to pick and choose which regulations it enforces, that food labeling is just as important as any other function of the FDA, and they need to make this a priority in the future.”
If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail email@example.com