Senators ask FDA to crack down on non-dairy milks, cheeses

Senators ask FDA to crack down on non-dairy milks, cheeses
© Getty Images

A bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to end the labeling of plant-based products as milk, cheese or yogurt.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, the coalition of dairy-land senators urged the agency to issue rules to “ensure that dairy terms may only be used to describe products that include dairy.”

“Dairy farmers across our nation work hard to ensure their products are healthy, nutrient-dense, and in compliance with FDA regulations regarding the use of dairy terms," the senators wrote in a letter this week.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Imposter products should no longer be able to get away with violating law and taking advantage of dairy’s good name,” the wrote

The signatories included Republican Sens. Jim RischJim Elroy RischLobbying world Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Colorado River cutbacks set stage for decade of drought politics MORE (Idaho), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThe Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act is an industry game-changer The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Wyden asks White House for details on jet fuel shortage amid wildfire season MORE (Idaho) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake Bottom line MORE (Wis.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPhotos of the Week: Renewable energy, gymnast testimonies and a Met Gala dress Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' MORE (Vt.) and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Democratic leaders vow climate action amid divide Manchin puts foot down on key climate provision in spending bill On The Money — The Democratic divide on taxes MORE (Minn.), as well as independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingSenate backers of new voting rights bill push for swift passage Stacey Abrams backs Senate Democrats' voting rights compromise NY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case MORE (Maine).

The letter is the latest attempt from dairy industry advocates to crack down on the increasingly popular plant-based alternatives to products derived from animal milk. Producers of nut, oat, soy and hemp-based milks and cheeses have cashed in as smaller American dairies falter due in part to falling domestic demand for cow milk.

Advocates for the dairy industry say plant-based products labeled as milk and cheese deceive consumers, who assume they include the same health benefits animal-derived foods.

“This is both unfair to our hardworking dairy farmers and problematic for consumers, making it harder for Americans to make educated decisions regarding what they feed themselves and their families,” the senators wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

Risch and Baldwin have also co-sponsored a bill to ban products made from plants and algae from being sold as milk, cheese or yogurt.

A Republican state lawmaker has also filed a similar measure in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. 

Boosting U.S. dairy has been a bipartisan goal in Washington for decades, and lobbyists for the industry hold impressive clout among lawmakers. President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE’s revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) includes a provision loosening Canadian barriers to U.S. dairy products, a longstanding goal for industry allies.