WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) are cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products using dairy names. The Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (DAIRY PRIDE Act) of 2021 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. Representatives Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) are introducing bipartisan companion legislation in the House.
“Having been born and raised in Aroostook County, I know how essential the dairy industry is to our state’s economy and our way of life. Maine’s dairy industry generates $570 million annually, contributes more than $25 million per year in state and local taxes, and provides more than 4,000 jobs,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation would help protect our dairy farmers and the quality of their milks, yogurts, and cheeses by requiring non-dairy producers to accurately label their products.”
“When consumers make a decision between dairy and non-dairy products at their local grocery stores, they may assume both options are nutritionally equivalent – however, that’s not the case,” said Senator King. “Plant-based alternatives are often mislabeled as ‘milk’, ‘yogurt’, and ‘cheese’ – a current practice that’s unfair to consumers and to Maine dairy farmers, who work hard to create products that are rich in nutrients for their communities. That’s why I’m backing the DAIRY PRIDE Act, to fight against mislabeling of products that do not meet the FDA’s definition of a dairy and protect the integrity of Maine-made dairy products.”
Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals. Although existing federal regulations are clear, the FDA has not enforced these labeling regulations and the mislabeling of plant-based imitation dairy products as ‘milk’, ‘yogurt’ and ‘cheese’ has increased rapidly. This hurts dairy farmers that work tirelessly to ensure their Made-in-Maine dairy products meet FDA standards and provide the public with nutritious food. It has also led to the proliferation of mislabeled alternative products that contain a range of ingredients and nutrients that are often not nearly as nutritious as authentic dairy products.
The DAIRY PRIDE Act would require the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days and require the FDA to report to Congress two years after enactment to hold the agency accountable for this update in their enforcement obligations. In addition to Senators Collins and King, this bipartisan legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).
More information on the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act is available here.