Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is once again calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enforce labeling laws and standards of identity regarding dairy products and prohibit misleading labels on nut- and plant-based beverages.
“FDA ensures consumers have accurate information about the food products they consume,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Executive Director of Governmental Relations Karen Gefvert. “Nut- and plant-based beverages are not held to the same standards of identity as dairy products, yet are able to share the benefits of using the term ‘milk’ on their packaging.”
The FDA’s open public comment period closed this week. Its goal was to gather input on how to handle labeling of dairy products and nut- and plant-based alternatives as well as consumer understanding of nutritional content of the products they’re purchasing.
“WFBF wholeheartedly supports a consumer’s right to access dairy-free products due to an allergy, intolerance or personal dietary preference,” Gefvert added. “Non-dairy beverages however, should be clearly identified as to not imply nutritional equivalency.”
A serving of dairy milk contains 8 grams of protein while imitation beverages including almond, coconut and rice have a lower protein content than milk. In many cases, the sweetened versions of imitation beverages contain more sugars and carbohydrates than non-flavored dairy milk.
The failure to enforce existing regulation when it comes to nut- and plant-based beverages using the term “milk” in product labeling has contributed to erosion in traditional milk’s market share and intentionally misrepresents the nutritional equivalency of imitation products.
“Farmers are asking for fairness and clarity in the marketplace and encourage the FDA to uphold and enforce current regulations,” added Gefvert.
The FDA already has established rules regarding labeling of alternative beverages that states an alternative product that is “nutritionally inferior” should be labeled as “imitation.”