Should Plant-Based Milk Be Called ‘Milk’? The FDA May Investigate.

From Susan Bird, Care2.com

In an embarrassingly obvious attempt to prop up the struggling dairy industry, 25 members of Congress have asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate and take action against manufacturers of plant-based milk. What did these companies do to get such negative congressional attention? They dared to call their product “milk.”

Milk has to come from a cow’s udder to merit being called “milk,” they say. Calling plant-based products “milk” is “misleading to consumers, harmful to the dairy industry, and a violation of milk’s standard of identity,” according to the letter sent to the FDA.

Without question, Big Dairy is behind this effort. It has found itself 25 congressional members who are willing to help whip this non-issue into a frenzy. Big Dairy hopes to knock plant-based milks off their incredible trajectory of growing consumer popularity.

“While consumers are entitled to choose imitation products, it is misleading and illegal for manufacturers of these items to profit from the ‘milk’ name,” the letter to the FDA states. “These products should be allowed on the market only when accurately labeled.”

Milk, the letter to the FDA insists, has “a clear standard of identity” defined in federal law as “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” The congressional reps supporting the dairy industry want the FDA to force plant-based milk producers to call it something else.

Plant-Based Foods Have Dairy, Egg and Meat Industries Running Scared

What this move represents is true fear. Big Dairy is losing ground, and losing it fast. If this sounds awfully familiar, you’re right. Back in October 2014, Unilever, the maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, challenged vegan start-up company Hampton Creek over what it was calling one of its products.

“Just Mayo” couldn’t use the word “mayo,” argued Unilever to the FDA, because “mayo” means “mayonnaise.” To be “mayonnaise” under the FDA’s definition, a product must include eggs. “Just Mayo” was not legally “mayonnaise,” they argued, and must therefore be called something else.