Of all the bills to pass through Congress over the past few months, there is one that really stands out. The DAIRY PRIDE Act presents an argument to Congress that almond milk should not be called “milk”.
And yes, the bill’s name is an acronym: the DIARY PRIDE Act stands “Defending Against Imitations And Replacements [of] Yogurt, [milk and cheese to] Provide Regular Intake of Dairy Every [day].” Indeed, not the most thorough of acronyms but one that suffices, for now.
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin and Vermont Representative Peter Welch (both Democrats) originally introduced this bill in January.
According to Baldwin (via press release): “Dairy farmers in Wisconsin work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality. Imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name for their own benefit, which is against the law and must be enforced. Mislabeling of plant-based products as ‘milk’ hurts our dairy farmers. That’s why I’ve authored the DAIRY PRIDE Act to take a stand for Wisconsin farmers and the quality products they make.”
But be sure that this is not a “political” issue. Farmers have been complaining about this matter now. For example, dairy farmer Brad Nevin notes, “While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, the increasingly common practice of labeling beverages as milk when they quite obviously are not is wrong and misleading.” Nevin is also a member/owner of Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), located in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
Janet Clark, of Vision Aire Farms argues, too, “Dairy has built a strong reputation as a reliable source of important nutrients we need daily.”
So it is important to examine that the FDA defines “milk” as “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” It would appear, then, that the government is on the side of the dairy farmers.
Clark goes on to argue: “To use these dairy terms on plant-based products undermines the real value that dairy provides in the form of naturally occurring Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A among others. Consumers associate dairy with the nutrients they need, and those are naturally occurring in milk from cows.”
While Congress debates the definition of milk—and what we should call alternative “milk”—perhaps they should also look at other types of foods that exactly fit their description: like peanut butter (which is not a type butter).