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 RischRepublicans start bracing for shutdown fight in run-up to election GOP's Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst Democrat Paulette Jordan to face incumbent Jim Risch in Idaho Senate race MORE (Idaho), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP skeptical of polling on Trump GOP: Trump needs a new plan On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions MORE (Idaho) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCongress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden campaign adds staff in three battleground states Clinton, Buttigieg among Democrats set to hold virtual events for Biden Warren top choice for VP for some Black progressives MORE (Wis.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse Overnight Defense: Navy won't reinstate fired captain | Dems probe use of federal officers in DC | Air Force appoints woman as top noncommissioned officer Dems request watchdog probe use of federal law enforcement in DC during Floyd protests MORE (Vt.) and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithTrump officials seek to reassure public about safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine The Hill's Campaign Report: Candidates, lawmakers mark Juneteenth Group of Democratic senators to propose making Juneteenth national holiday MORE (Minn.), as well as independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingMcConnell on filibuster talk: Democrats want to 'vandalize' Senate rules Manchin draws line against repealing legislative filibuster Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats 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 TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address 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.