Milk is in the news again.



Has the new controversy escaped you?

Lawmakers are upset milk alternatives are called ‘milk’ and they seek to change the labels.

We can read FDA code, after code for the definition of ‘milk’.

Or, we can simplify to say ‘milk’ comes from an animal: cow, goat, or sheep.

Labels are controversial because many are misleading or confusing.

The FDA recently redefined an antiquated definition of “healthy” so that Pop-Tarts are not healthy, and avocados are…  It issued guidelines so new labels are accurate and serving sizes reflect the portion size a person consumes in one sitting.

Consumers are outraged that sugar is called by new names so it does not appear at the top of the ingredient list on food labels.

There’s plenty of confusion to go around, and the new regulations are supposed to sort out the difficulty by simplifying the issue.  

There is fake fish, fake kobe beef, fake wine, fake cheese, fake olive oil. In those instances the public is being misled to believe it is consuming something healthier than the actual product. Moreover the labeling supports this misdirected belief. 

Regarding ‘milk, is there anything to fight about?

No one believes almond, cashew, coconut, hemp, rice, soy ‘milk’, and other alternatives are the same thing that comes from a cow; do they?  

The alternatives are sold side by side with cow’s milk, but they aren’t held to the same guidelines. There is no attempt to defraud the public into drinking milk alternatives instead of the real thing, rather people search out the alternatives because they can’t, or don’t want to drink, “milk”.

In light of the new label making, do we need to remake the label on ‘milk’ too?

Maybe we do…in order to keep labels honest.

Should plant and nut-based ‘milk’ alternatives be regulated in the same way as ‘milk’ that comes from an animal, or are we opening a whole different can of worms?

One Product,  One Set of Standards

Chris Galen thinks standardized regulations should apply to anything consumed as though it is ‘milk’.

There is a federal regulation that defines what foods must be made of. We’ve seen an explosion of plant-based imitations. We’re not looking for new regulations — we just want the FDA to enforce the existing regulations,” Galen said.

Galen works for the National Milk Producers Federation.

Milk farmers like Patty Leonard say non-dairy milk products are successful because they are misleading.

Leonard, whose family has been farming in Northern Virginia for almost a century. She milks her cows twice daily, and is concerned about the decline.

Peter Welch a Democratic Congressman of Vermont, Mike Simpson a Republican Congressman of Idaho, team up with 23 members of Congress, write a letter to the FDA asking the for a solution.

This ‘milk’ issue doesn’t appear to be partisan, but the full agenda is unclear.

Let Consumers Decide

If it walks, and talks like a duck, it must be … ‘milk’.

Nancy Chapman of the Soyfoods Association can’t figure out what the fuss is about.

“Worldwide this is the same terminology that has been used for years,” Chapman says.

And, “When you drink soy milk, it is equal in terms of its availability to support growth and development as is a dairy cow’s milk,” She says.

Tennis star Venus Williams and hip-hop producer DJ Khaled appear in new up-tempo ads for Silk Almond and Soy Milk. The products enjoy growing revenue.

The almond milk industry says to let consumers decide.

Consumers offer mixed reviews.

“I don’t think they’re the same as milk and I think that confuses people,” says one shopper, James Assey.

“I think it should be continued to called milk. It’s used like milk,” says another shopper, Carla Boarden.

Almond milk is America’s favorite ‘milk’ substitute. And, it hurt milk farmers’ revenue by more than $1 Billion according to data from the Nielsen Company

Milk producers dropped another 11% in production last year, bringing consumption to a new low.

The push for same guidelines has nothing to do with fairness.

Over the last 5 years there has been a decline in milk purchase and the fight appears to be more about marketing and revenue, than an argument about health.

Sources: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, California Dept of Food and Agriculture, selected other State Departments of Agriculture, and USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

What will the FDA do?

The FDA can broaden the definition of ‘milk’ to include substitutes as healthy alternatives, or regulate the issue.

The FDA hasn’t responded to the petition, but We Talk Healthy will follow the results and how they impact your health. 

What do you think will happen? Will ‘milk’ alternatives be forced to comply with animal ‘milk’ standards, or will a simpler resolution prevail?

A little ‘milk’ humor may hold you over until the FDA has a response.

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