Evers Urges FDA To Enforce Dairy Labeling

Gov. Tony Evers sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration urging the department to reconsider its position on Docket No. FDA-2023-D-0451 for Labeling of Plant-based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements. 

Current FDA regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals, but the guidance released on Feb. 22 amends that definition and proposes allowing non-dairy products, such as products made from nuts or plants, to be marketed as such.

“Over the course of generations, Wisconsin farmers have built a reputation for producing high-quality, nutritious products. Consumers choose Wisconsin milk products because they know that our farmers take pride in producing quality products backed by rigorous industry standards,” Evers wrote. “Inaccurate labeling of imitation products as ‘milk’ not only creates confusion in the marketplace but threatens one of the core industries within Wisconsin’s $104.8 billion agricultural economy.”

In the letter, the governor also expressed his support for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s “Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday” Act, also known as the DAIRY PRIDE Act.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate by Baldwin on Feb. 28, this legislation would require non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants, and algae to no longer be mislabeled with dairy terms such as milk, yogurt, or cheese.

“In contrast to the recently proposed FDA rules, I support S. 549, the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act,” Evers continues. “This will ensure Wisconsin dairy producers have the protection they deserve when marketing their dairy products without unfair competition from non-dairy products claiming to be dairy products.”

Read the letter: https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/WIGOV/2023/03/08/file_attachments/2431152/03082023_TE%20letter%20to%20FDA%20re%20dairy%20guidance.pdf

The letter comes after several dairy groups voiced their support for the DAIRY PRIDE Act and for the FDA to enforce its existing labeling requirements. See the story: https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2023/02/25/agriculture-responds-to-fda-labeling-guidance/

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative is welcoming the reintroduction of the DAIRY PRIDE Act into the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin and Angie Craig of Minnesota. The move follows the introduction of the same legislation in the U.S. Senate last week.

“Our dairy farmers are frustrated by the confusion mislabeling causes for consumers,” says Edge President Brody Stapel. “Studies have shown they don’t understand the substantial nutritional differences between true dairy products and nutritionally inferior imitation products.”

While the bill is similar to the version Edge has supported in the past, it also includes a new provision nullifying FDA’s recent draft guidance, which would continue to allow the use of the dairy term ‘milk’ on the labels of plant-based milk alternatives.

“Dairy farmers deserve fairness in the marketplace,” Stapel says.