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Thursday 27 July 2017

Can almond milk be labeled milk? US Congress debates definition

The rise of dairy-free alternatives is causing problems for farmers

Almond milk
Almond milk

Rachel Hosie

There has been a lot going on in the States of late.

Naturally, Congress has been discussing the big issues, including abortion, Obamacare and, well, almond milk.

A new bill has been created that seeks to ban dairy alternatives from using the term ‘milk’.

Titled the DAIRY PRIDE Act, the name is a tenuous acronym for ‘defending against imitations and replacements of yogurt, milk, and cheese to promote regular intake of dairy every day’.

The bill was introduced in January by two democrats, Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont.

It argues that the dairy industry is struggling as a result of all the dairy-free alternatives on the market and the public are being duped too.

Of course, it’s not just almond milk - there are all sorts of dairy-free milks (also known as ‘mylks’) widely available, including soya, oat, coconut, hemp, hazelnut and cashew.

According to the bill, the fact that said alternatives are allowed to call themselves ‘milk’ “hurts dairy farmers that work tirelessly to ensure their dairy products meet FDA standards and provide the public with nutritious food. 


“It has also led to the proliferation of mislabeled plant-based alternative products that contain a range of ingredients and nutrients that are often not equivalent to the nutrition content of dairy products.”

According to Baldwin, Wisconsin dairy farmers “work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality,” but “imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name for their own benefit, which is against the law and must be enforced.”

As interest in veganism increases, consumption of plant-based milks is equally on the up.

But farmers have been complaining for some time now.

“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,” said Brad Nevin, Dairy farmer and member-owner of Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

“Dairy has built a strong reputation as a reliable source of important nutrients we need daily,” added Janet Clark of Vision Aire Farms in Eldorado.

“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.”

However if plant-based milks shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves milk, you could also argue that peanut butter shouldn’t call itself butter and the same goes for cornbread and bread.

Independent News Service