Containers of Silk soy milk are displayed on a shelf at United Market on July 7, 2016 in San Rafael, California.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Government could define ‘What is milk?’

If it doesn't come from a cow it shouldn't be called milk? That's what the dairy industry wants the government to decide.

Dairy producers want the Food and Drug Administration to limit the use of that term to dairy products.

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It would ban nut or plant-based products from using the term "milk" in their labeling.

“You have a wild west atmosphere where someone can take a nut add a bunch of water to it and chemicals and call it milk,” Alan Bjerga of the National Milk Producers Federation, said.

“No one’s coming home with almond milk and saying ‘oh whoops, I thought it was from a cow,” Ken Forsberg of The Good Food Institute countered. 

“That’s not the nutritional profile of milk that’s not what dairy producers provide and that’s why this is such an important interest for the dairy industry,” Bjerga said.

The FDA opened up for public comment rules on milk labeling last year and 14,000 people commented on both sides of the issue.

“I think consumers have a variety of reasons for choosing plant-based milks I think some of them are worried about the environmental footprint of dairy farming and the efficiency, some of them have health reasons,” Ken Forsberg of The Good Food Institute said. 

Forsberg with the good food institute says consumers already understand the differences between dairy milk and almond milk. 

“No one’s coming home with almond milk and saying ‘oh whoops, I thought it was from a cow,” Forsberg said. 

An FDA spokesman said in a statement that over the next year the department will look at next steps for "the use of names of dairy foods in labeling plant-based products"

There is also a bipartisan bill in Congress supporting the dairy industry and sending a message about what lawmakers think the FDA should do.

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