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New Campaign Demonstrates Nutritional Deficiencies in Dairy Imitations

October 19, 2017

In a letter to regulators in late September, National Milk insisted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take enforcement action against imitation dairy product “Blue Magic Cashew Milk” for continuing to ignore federal standards of identity for dairy products. This latest action is part of a continued effort to spotlight other plant-based products masquerading as dairy foods.

In a letter sent last month to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, NMPF said that San Francisco-based Urban Remedy’s continued use of a standardized dairy term on a plant-based imitation is a violation of standards defining milk solely as the product of a dairy animal.

NMPF evaluated the beverage in June 2017 as part of a marketplace survey examining the nutrients in imitation dairy foods. Of the 244 beverages reviewed, Blue Magic’s two-cup serving contained the highest sodium content, grams of fat and calories. An entire 16-ounce bottle of Blue Magic contains 470 mg of sodium — the equivalent of a fast-food hamburger. Even a half-serving (1 cup) featured the highest calories and fat of all products surveyed, and was second highest in its sodium level.

By contrast, real low-fat milk, per cup, has more than four times the amount of Vitamin A, three grams more protein and 285 mg more calcium as Urban Remedy’s imitation version.

This call to action against Blue Magic Cashew Milk is part of an expanded NMPF effort that will focus attention on food brands that inappropriately label their products using dairy terminology. The series, titled “Dairy Imitators: Exposed,” will demonstrate these products’ lack of compliance with federal standards, and their nutritional deficiencies when compared to real milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy foods. NMPF will continue to press federal and state agencies about the imitation products highlighted, pointing out their violations of standards of identity, as well as nutritional inferiority.

This is the second time this year that NMPF has raised objections about Blue Magic Milk. After National Milk’s initial review in June, Urban Remedy altered its label to read “Blue Magic Cashew Milk,” but NMPF said the change was only cosmetic as the company is still violating federal labeling regulations by using a standardized dairy term on its plant-based beverage.

“Beyond ignoring clearly-defined regulations specifying what milk is, this ‘Blue Magic’ product is an affront to consumers seeking appropriate levels of nutrition for their families,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF.  “It’s obvious that this beverage is not a nutritional substitute for real milk, regardless of its desire to co-opt dairy terms.”

NMPF has engaged with FDA several times over the last 10 months, through both numerous letters and an in-person meeting with top regulators. In addition, NMPF has been pushing legislation – the DAIRY PRIDE Act – that would require FDA to take action against any rule-breaking dairy imitations.