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New FDA Commissioner and New Funding Law Position FDA to Get Job Done on Fake Dairy

January 7, 2020

Heading into 2020, two major actions provide cause for optimism that momentum is building for the Food and Drug Administration to finally enforce dairy-product standards of identity.

First, the Senate confirmed Dr. Stephen Hahn to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) December 12.  In an exchange with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) during his confirmation hearing, Dr. Hahn stated his support for “clear, transparent, and understandable labeling for the American people.”

“We congratulate Dr. Hahn on his bipartisan confirmation and are hopeful that he will act on his words from the hearing and begin enforcing the FDA’s own standards of identity, which clearly reserve dairy terms for real dairy products, not plant-based imposters who mislead consumers by mislabeling nutritionally inferior products,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO.

More recently, the House and Senate included language in the report accompanying the final Fiscal Year 2020 government funding measure to urge FDA to complete its job and enforce dairy-product standards.  Both the House and Senate versions of the Agriculture-FDA bill report included language reaffirming bipartisan congressional concern with mislabeled imitation dairy products and directing FDA to enforce its own rules on labeling.

The report reaffirms Congress’s concern “about the proliferation of products …. that include the names of dairy products that do not contain milk or ingredients derived from milk,” as stated in Senate language. To address the problem, the Senate asks FDA to report on “steps taken to enforce against dairy imitation products marketed using dairy names,” while House language “urges the FDA to continue its work toward ultimately enforcing standards of identity for dairy products.”

The House and Senate passed the final compromise funding bill before adjourning for the holidays. President Trump signed the measure into law December 20.