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NMPF Calls Out Bolthouse Farms for Egregious Labeling Practices On Its Pea Powder-based Beverage Labeled as “Milk”

April 5, 2018

In its latest effort to highlight plant-based food companies that ignore federal regulations to market their products using dairy-specific terms, NMPF is calling out Bolthouse Farms and its parent company Campbell Foods for its unfair and illegal labeling practices.

In a letter sent April 4 to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), NMPF criticized both Campbell Foods and its California-based Bolthouse brand for the prominent use of the word “MILK” on the center of its package. According to NMPF, Bolthouse violates federal regulations by inaccurately labeling its product as milk, and ignoring FDA standards of identity that make clear milk and other dairy products must be sourced from animals, not plants.

The letter also noted that in many grocery stores the Bolthouse product is sold in the dairy case immediately adjacent to real cow’s milk, further leading to consumer confusion about the origin and nutritional content of the product. The “lack of segregation, combined with the deliberate attempt to mislead consumers with the prominent use of the term ‘MILK’ on the label,” can easily confuse customers into believing the pea powder-based product is another brand of cow’s milk, NMPF wrote.

The opaque powder-based fluid sold by Bolthouse Farms attempts to replicate the color, taste and mouthfeel of regular milk. But compared to milk’s three ingredients, Bolthouse’s pea product contains 14, all of which are added during factory processing.

In the fall of 2016, NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) had contacted Campbell Foods before the launch of its new Bolthouse Farms’ pea powder-based beverage, telling the company’s general counsel that the product did not adhere to federal standards of identity for dairy foods and therefore should not be labeled as “milk.”

To supplement this most recent letter, NMPF created a new graphic to add to its “Dairy Imitators: Exposed” effort, which illustrates the disparities between imitation foods and real dairy foods. The latest edition compares the ingredient lists of both cow’s milk and Bolthouse Farms’ pea “milk” to highlight the artificial nature of the beverage.