(WFRV) – Food companies increasingly are co-opting “milk” as a label for dairy alternatives, like plant-based foods. The dairy community is ramping up its efforts on both the federal and state levels to crack down on this misuse. Millaine is joined by Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative for a conversation about the effort. The group says:
· At the federal level, the FDA defines milk as coming from a cow. The agency hasn’t enforced that standard. Edge is aggressively pushing the FDA to do so.
· At the state level in Wisconsin, lawmakers have proposed two bills that would ban the labeling of products as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient, if the food is not made from the milk of a mammal. Edge’s sister organization, the Dairy Business Association, is fighting for these bills.
· The mislabeling of plant-based foods as real dairy foods confuses and misleads customers. People often make judgments about a food’s nutritional value based on its name.
· Customers deserve transparency. Words do matter. Milk is milk, and cheese is cheese.
· The labeling needs to be clarified for the benefit of customers and the dairy community.
· Dairy farmers and cheesemakers believe customers should have choices. But those customers deserve to know the differences in the food products.
· Studies show that customers are confused. Edge and several other dairy organizations did a national survey in the past year that demonstrated this confusion. A couple findings:
· About one-quarter of customers mistakenly think plant-based products labeled as cheese actually contain milk.
· About one-third of customers think that plant-based imitation cheese contains protein, even though the imitations have little to no protein