Legislation Pushes New Labeling Laws for Soy, Almond Milk

Lizzy Schultz

Soy and almond milk producers may soon face new labeling laws if new industry-backed legislation, sponsored by a pair of dairy state lawmakers, attracts more support in Congress.

The Dairy Pride Act, sponsored by Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Vermont Rep. Peter Welch, would enforce longstanding FDA definitions (CFR 131.110) that define milk. The new bill expands the definition of milk to include the “lacteal secretions” of other hooved animals such as goats and sheep. Its sponsors argue that “plant-based products labeled as milk are misleading to consumers.”

The legislation would force companies to remove the word “milk” from their labels, and is opposed by the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the Plant-Based Foods Association. These groups produce products such as soy milk and almond butter. The American Soybean Association claims that very few consumers think milk is an ingredient in soy milk, claiming that consumers deliberately choose non-dairy milks.

The bill is supported by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which represent dairy producers. The two organizations spent nearly $1.5 million on lobbying during 2016. In a joint statement, the groups said the bill is necessary “to defend the integrity of federal food labeling standards and prevent the misbranding of dairy imitators.”

The House version of the bill, HR 778, has six other cosponsors, including Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.). California, Wisconsin and Idaho are all major dairy producers.

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