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March 14, 2019

King Backs Bipartisan Bill to Protect Maine Dairy Farmers from Imitation Products

Legislation requires FDA to enforce current labeling requirements on non-dairy products mislabeled as milk, yogurt, and cheese

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today cosponsored the Defending Against Imitations and Replacements in Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday (DAIRY PRIDE) Act.  The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), would protect the integrity of dairy products and require that non-dairy products not be labeled with dairy terms like milk, yogurt and cheese. Senator King co-sponsored the DAIRY PRIDE Act in the 115th Congress.  With the rise of non-dairy milk products appearing in grocery stores nationwide, the DAIRY PRIDE Act would clarify the decision-making process for consumers and require that other ‘milks’ rebrand themselves with more precise terminology.

“Maine dairy farmers work hard to produce high-quality, made-in-Maine dairy products, and they should not be faced with unfair competition from imitation products using dairy terms to convey a nutritional equivalency that is not accurate,” said Senator King. “By ensuring the FDA enforces its labeling requirements, we can strengthen the Maine dairy industry and help protect the livelihood of Maine farmers.”

“Maine dairy farmers are extremely proud of our long-standing reputation for producing high quality, nutritionally-dense milk and dairy products that are part of a healthy diet,” said Julie-Marie Bickford, Executive Director of the Maine Dairy Industry Association. “We know consumers don’t think that almond “milk” comes from cows who are fed almonds, but we do believe that consumers think that these other beverages offer the same nutritional value as a glass of authentic cows’ milk. The DAIRY PRIDE Act will help clarify this error and protect the hard-working dairy families that are committed to providing the highest quality nutrition to our neighbors.”

The DAIRY PRIDE Act would correct the dairy labeling enforcement issue by requiring the FDA to provide guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days of the legislation’s enactment. It would also require the FDA to report to Congress two years after enactment to hold the agency accountable for updates in its enforcement obligations. Any non-dairy foods that make an inaccurate claim about their milk contents would be considered misbranded and subject to enforcement. The legislation would additionally expand the FDA’s definition of milk to include all hooved mammals.

In 2015, Maine exported $17.3 million worth of dairy products, making dairy the second most prominent agricultural product in the state behind potatoes.

Joining Senators King, Risch, and Baldwin in support of the legislation are Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Bipartisan companion legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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