Senator Tina Smith Joins Colleagues in Introducing Bipartisan Bill to Combat Mislabeling of Non-Dairy Products

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed guidance last week allowing nut, oat, soy, and other non-dairy products to use the name “milk,” Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jim Risch (R-ID), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Peter Welch (D-VT) in introducing 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 2023 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.

“Minnesota dairy farmers are an essential part of our economy and their high-quality products are distributed around the country,” said Senator Smith. “We should be making sure plant-based imitation products are not misleading consumers and putting hard-working dairy farmers at a competitive disadvantage. This legislation will ensure plant-based alternatives are properly labeled while protecting and supporting Minnesota’s dairy producers.”

“Wisconsin’s dairy farmers produce second-to-none products with the highest nutritional value and imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name without meeting those standards,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Biden Administration’s guidance that allows non-dairy products to use dairy names is just wrong, and I’m proud to take a stand for Wisconsin farmers and the quality products they make. Our bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act will protect our dairy farmers and ensure consumers know the nutritional value of what they are purchasing.”

“For too long, plant-based products with completely different nutritional values have wrongly masqueraded as dairy,” said Senator Risch. “This dishonest branding is misleading to consumers and a disservice to the dairy farmers who have committed their lives to making milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and more nutritious products Idahoans enjoy every day. It is past time that the Food and Drug Administration enforce its own definitions for dairy terminology, prevent imitation products from deceiving consumers, and start advocating for the farmers who feed us.”

“Our dairy farms are the heart of Vermont’s economy, our history, and our communities.  The work they do should be protected and supported. That’s why I’m proud to join Senator Baldwin in introducing the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act,” said Senator Welch. “This bill will give our farmers much needed support and correct FDA’s misguided efforts to allow non-dairy products to use dairy names—giving dairy farmers the protections they need to thrive.”

“As an Aroostook County native, I know how essential the dairy industry is to our state’s economy, and I know how hard Maine’s dairy farmers work to produce nutritious milk, yogurt, cheese, and other products. It is unfair for other industries to capitalize on milk’s nutritious brand,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation would help protect our dairy farmers and the quality of their goods by requiring non-dairy producers to accurately label their products.”

Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals, however, last week the FDA released ill-advised draft guidance allowing plant-based products to continue to use dairy terms despite not containing dairy, nor having the nutritional value of dairy products.

The FDA’s anti-dairy draft guidance contradicts their own regulation and definitions, allowing non-dairy products to use dairy names, violating the Administrative Procedure Act, and hurting dairy farmers and producers, who work tirelessly to ensure their 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 equivalent to the nutritional content of 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. The legislation would also nullify any guidance that is not consistent with dairy standards of identity, including the one released last week.

The bipartisan legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Angus King (I-ME), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Roger Marshall (R-KS).

Full text of this legislation can be found here.

An online version of this release is available here.