Time for FDA to put the squeeze on milk hijackers

By Laurie Fischer
American Dairy Coalition

No matter the age, when Americans think of milk, they envision healthy bones and calcium.

Science continues to make the case: A cup of milk provides about 30 percent of the daily recommended calcium intake for the majority of the population.  When a gallon of milk is purchased anywhere across the U.S., consumers know what they are getting inside that jug — no matter the brand. That’s because it’s actually milk! It comes from a lactating cow.

Just because a plant-based drink is white and tastes OK in your cereal doesn’t make it “milk.” Plant-based alternative-drink manufacturers are trying to encroach upon the reputation of the dairy industry.

Recently, the battle over the world “milk” has come to a head.  The “Good Food Institute,” a non-profit organization that promotes plant-based meat and dairy products, has dug up a 20-year-old petition —originally issued by the Soy Foods Association to the FDA — to clarify once and for all whether or not “milk” can be used on the labels of “non-milk” beverages.  The FDA never responded to the original petition.  A bill entitled the DAIRY PRIDE Act, has been sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), to direct the FDA to protect the “integrity of dairy products by enforcing existing labeling requirements” and require that “non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants and algae no longer be confusingly labeled with dairy terms.”   The House Appropriation Committee has recently responded by directing the FDA to issue guidance on the Standards of Identification for Milk.   

We cannot allow food activists who wish to destroy modern farming to pick and choose what is considered “misleading.”   While plant-based drinks may provide something that looks like a dairy product, their nutritional content is far from equal to real dairy. Their consistency also is lacking.

If you pick up a carton of soy beverage, you may be getting anywhere from 61-400 mgs of calcium per cup, depending on whether the product has been calcium fortified or not.  The same is true with other varieties of plant-based alternatives.  The calcium you get in that glass will vary depending upon the brand.  Furthermore, a variety of other ingredients with unfamiliar names are added to most of these alternative drinks.

For example, the ingredient list on the back of a randomly selected popular brand of coconut beverage contained more than 10 ingredients.  Whole milk contained two (milk and vitamin D3).

It shouldn’t take a nutritional science degree to understand what is in your milk, or how much of the vitamins and minerals your body needs are contained within that product you select.  Milk is milk. It is natural, consistent and wholesome.

Plant-based products are loved by many and come with their own set of nutritional benefits and weaknesses — but you cannot milk an almond.

The American Dairy Coalition and the 30,000 dairy producers we represent from across the nation, encourage the FDA to stand up for the dairy industry and the healthful products we produce by reserving the word “milk” for true, irreplaceable, dairy milk.

To learn more about the American Dairy Coalition, please visit us at www.americandairycoalitioninc.com or contact us at info@americandairycoalitioninc.com.