The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has sent a petition to the FDA urging the regulator to crack down on what it calls “the misappropriation of dairy terminology on imitation milk products.”
Since the NMPF first complained to the FDA about the practice a decade ago, the trade body argues that it is now more common than ever.
In addition to the proliferation of terms like ‘soy milk’ and ‘soymilk’, the petition to the FDA contends that other dairy product names like cheese, yogurt and ice cream are being used by makers of non-dairy products.
“False and misleading”
The NMPF describes this as “false and misleading” labeling. Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and CEO, accuses the FDA of letting the issue slide so that the meaning of ‘milk’ has now been “watered down to the point where many products that use the term have never seen the inside of a barn.”
Kozak went further suggesting that the use of dairy terminology on non-dairy products can lead people to think that they are eating a healthier product than they really are.
He said non-dairy products “can vary wildly in their composition and are inferior to the nutrient profile of those from dairy milk – although they are marketed as replacements for foods that consumers are familiar with and which have a healthful image.”
Nobody from the Soy Foods Association of North America was available to comment on these claims before deadline.
Concern about the use of dairy terms on non-dairy products are widespread in the dairy industry. On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Dairy Association (EDA) has also called for the term ‘soy milk’ to be replaced with 'soy drink'. The trade body also suggested other acceptable alternatives including 'soy beverage', 'soy preparation', and possibly 'soy-based liquid'.