Food and Health E-ssentials

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US legislators seek clarity on dairy labelling

Representatives in the U.S. Congress have proposed legislation intended to help reduce confusion around plant-based food products marketed as dairy equivalents. 

Introduced in mid-March into the U.S. Senate by Senators Tammy Baldwin and Jim Risch and concurrently into the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Peter Welch and Mike Simpson, the Dairy Pride Act would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue guidance on the labelling of dairy products. 

Specifically, the Act would restrict the use of dairy terms such “milk,” “yogurt” or “cheese” to products actually made from dairy ingredients, and would ban the use of such terms in conjunction with the labelling or marketing of products made from nuts, seeds, plants or algae. 

Current FDA regulations define dairy products as those based on ingredients originating from dairy animals. However, according to the sponsors of the legislation, the FDA has not taken actions to enforce accurate labelling, and dairy terms are being widely misapplied to non-dairy products. This has led to confusion among consumers about plant-based products on the market that do not provide the same nutritional content as dairy-based products. 

Similar legislation was introduced in 2017, but failed to gain sufficient support for passage. 

The text of the U.S. Dairy Pride Act as submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives is available here.

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