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Welch, Leahy Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Stop the Labeling of Non-Dairy Products as ‘Milk’

March 14, 2019
Press Release

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) today re-introduced bipartisan legislation in the House that requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take enforcement action against manufacturers labeling non-dairy products as dairy. 

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) cosponsored the Senate version of the bill introduced today by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho).

The Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (DAIRY PRIDE Act) would stop the use of dairy terms such as milk, yogurt and cheese on the labels of non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants, and algae. The legislation does not prevent the sale of non-dairy products, only their mislabeling as dairy products.

“Vermont’s dairy farmers, already struggling to survive, are facing a growing threat due to the misleading practice of marketing plant-based products as milk,” said Welch. “These products do not meet the FDA’s definition of milk because they do not have the unique attributes and nutritional value of milk. Our bill would require the FDA to enforce its existing definition of milk so that consumers can make informed choices.”

“The DAIRY PRIDE Act is simply about fairness,” said Leahy. “Vermont’s hardworking dairy farmers deserve to sell their products on a level playing field, just as consumers deserve to know exactly what they’re putting on the table. In both cases, truth in labeling matters. There can always be room on the shelves for plant-based products, but every Vermonter knows that milk doesn’t come from plants. It’s past time for labels across the country to reflect that.”

“Truth in labeling matters,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Anson Tebbetts. “It’s important the public is informed by what they are buying. We appreciate consumers who are purchasing dairy knowing it’s produced on a farm. We all want to play by the same rules. We hope FDA addresses this issue so our dairy farmers are treated fairly.”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals, yet the agency has failed to enforce its own regulations. Misleading labels are harming dairy farmers who strive to ensure their products meet FDA standards and provide consumers with nutritious products. 

The DAIRY PRIDE Act would require the FDA to issue guidance on its enforcement of its regulations on mislabeled dairy products within 90 days and require the agency to report to Congress on its implementation of the law two years after its enactment.

The bill has 31 cosponsors in the House and 4 in the Senate.