March 02, 2023
Washington, D.C. – Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed guidance last week allowing nut, oat, soy, and other non-dairy products to continue using "milk” branding, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) joined a bipartisan group in introducing legislation 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) of 2023 would require non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants, and algae to no longer be mislabeled with terms such as milk, yogurt or cheese.
“As an Aroostook County native, I know how essential the dairy industry is to our state’s economy, and I know how hard Maine’s dairy farmers work to produce nutritious milk, yogurt, cheese, and other products. It is unfair for non-dairy products to capitalize on milk’s nutritious brand,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation would help protect our dairy farmers and the quality of their goods by requiring non-dairy producers to accurately label their products.”
“When consumers look at the decision between the many dairy-labeled products available at their local grocery stores, they may assume all options are nutritionally equivalent,” said Senator King. “Labeling plant-based alternatives as ‘milk’, ‘yogurt’, or ‘cheese’ is misleading to consumers and makes informed dietary choices more difficult. Consumers deserve to clearly see the truth about the food they buy while Maine dairy farmers deserve a fair shot in a crowded marketplace. I’m backing the DAIRY PRIDE Act to fight against the mislabeling of products that do not meet the FDA’s definition of a dairy and protect the integrity of Maine-made dairy products.”
Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals, however, last week the FDA released draft guidance allowing plant-based products to continue to use dairy terms despite neither containing dairy nor having the nutritional value of dairy products.
The FDA’s anti-dairy draft guidance contradicts the agency’s own regulations and definitions, violating the Administrative Procedure Act and hurting dairy farmers and producers who work tirelessly to ensure that 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 nutritional 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. The legislation would also nullify any guidance that is not consistent with dairy standards of identity, including the one released last week.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jim Risch (R-ID), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Tina Smith (D-MN).
Full text of this legislation can be found here.