News & Resources

NMPF Urges Members to Tell FDA to Enforce Dairy Labeling Rules

December 14, 2018

Following the announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is extending the public comment period on the fake-milk labeling issue, NMPF is urging its members to provide feedback to the agency before the Jan. 28 deadline.

Since NMPF released its first four-page document of key messages and data points at its Annual Meeting in October, it has expanded its toolkit of resources, including an instructional video, colorful graphics, a dedicated webpage and a social media marketing campaign – all intended to demonstrate  why the FDA needs to enforce its existing labeling standards. NMPF is asking not just its members, but also consumers, family members and even pediatricians to explain how misbranded dairy imitators mislead consumers and harm public health.

“We’re really revving the engine on this issue,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “With less than two months to go before the commenting deadline, we intend to drum up support from our engaged membership and use it to highlight the public health issues at stake.”

Informational materials now available on the NMPF website include:

  • A four-page document that includes instructions for submitting comments and key points
  • An instructional video with screen grabs illustrating the step-by-step process of how to comment on the FDA docket
  • A library of graphics to share in newsletters or on social media

Beverages made of water, emulsifiers and plant ingredients have long used dairy terms to falsely associate themselves with the positive traits of milk-based foods, including milk’s nine essential nutrients. While FDA standards clearly specify that milk is the product of an animal, enforcement of those rules has been neglected for decades. FDA finally took up the standards-of-identity issue earlier this year, holding a hearing in July before putting out an initial request for comments with a deadline of Nov. 27. NMPF successfully requested that the deadline be pushed to the end of January, after which the FDA may consider a new rule governing dairy labeling.

Current labeling practices create false impressions of nutritional and quality equivalence that prompt consumers to make decisions they might not otherwise make with proper labeling.

“U.S. consumers shouldn’t receive false signals about products,” said Mulhern. “This situation requires FDA’s intervention, for the benefit of consumers and transparency in the marketplace. Until then, the dairy producer community has to lead the charge in providing clear, compelling arguments for why action is needed.