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

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

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“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 RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischGOP lawmaker makes unannounced trip to northeastern Syria Lawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements MORE (Idaho), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoRepublican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Lobbying World Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices MORE (Idaho) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump on US coronavirus risks: 'We're very, very ready for this' GOP, Democrats hash out 2020 strategy at dueling retreats Chamber looks to support Democratic allies in 2020 MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing | Senators urge USDA to open up rural broadband funding MORE (Wis.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocrats introduce bill to reverse Trump's shift of military money toward wall Republicans give Barr vote of confidence Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe MORE (Vt.) and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithGOP, Democrats hash out 2020 strategy at dueling retreats Democratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students Trump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire MORE (Minn.), as well as independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingOcasio-Cortez defends Sanders running as a Democrat: It's 'more than what you call yourself' Use of voting tabulation apps raise red flags on Capitol Hill Patrick Dempsey to star in pilot for CBS political drama 'Ways and Means' 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.

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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 John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary 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.