FDA urged to enforce identity standards to prevent dairy product ‘imitation’

By Mark Astley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk

Senator Dan Coats (pictured) along with Richard Lugar and Kristen Gillibrand have urged the FDA to enforce dairy identity standards.
Senator Dan Coats (pictured) along with Richard Lugar and Kristen Gillibrand have urged the FDA to enforce dairy identity standards.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been urged by three members of the US Senate to increase its enforcement of regulations that prevent the “imitation” of standardised dairy products.

Senators Dan Coats, Richard Lugar and Kristen Gillibrand called on the FDA to enforce its Standards of Identity regulations in a letter addressed to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Standards of identity, which are outlined in the Code of Federation Regulations, are legal standards which define a food’s minimum quality specification including permitted ingredients and processing requirements.

According to the letter, it has become increasingly common to find products on the market that use the names of standardised dairy products such as milk, despite not meeting specific requirements.

The US National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has given its backing to the senator-led campaign, pinpointed soy milk as the biggest violator of the FDA dairy standards.

The senators expressed concerns that “these misleading labels will become even more prevalent and further erode the meaning of these dairy terms.”

“Haphazard enforcement”

“We are writing to express our concerns regarding the haphazard enforcement efforts of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent the misbranding of certain food items that are imitations of standardised dairy products,”​ said the letter.

“Federal standards of identity are established to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers. Dairy product standards contain provisions regarding both permitted and prohibited ingredients, as well as proper manufacturing procedures to protect product identity.”

In the US, standards of identity have been established for milk, cream, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream and some types of cheeses.

However, products such as soy milk have continued to be manufactured in violation of the FDA regulations.

“It is clear from scattered enforcement actions that the FDA understands these terms should not be used in such a manner for imitation dairy products. However, given the increasing prevalence of mislabeled imitation dairy products, FDA enforcement has not been sufficient,” ​added the letter.

While the senators accept that consumers may choose these “imitation” ​dairy products for a variety of reason, it is “inappropriate for manufacturers of these products to violate the law and continue to mislead consumers by capitalising on dairy terminology for standardised foods.”

“Imitation dairy products should be allowed on the market only when accurately labeled.”

Soy milk – worst offender

“The letter is very consistent with the letters we have previously sent to the Congress and the FDA,” ​said NMPF spokesperson Chris Galen referring to the organisations 12 year campaign against standardised dairy product imitation.

“Our initial concern was that we were seeing a number of products in supermarkets using the term soy milk, which is not permitted in the US.”

Almond, rice and hemp products labelled as ‘milk’ have since become prevalent, he added.

“It started with soy, and now it encompasses a much wider spectrum of products.”

“If it’s not going to be enforced then what’s the point?”​ added Galen.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Ingredients

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1 comment

Financial Greed for the chosen "FEW".. nothing else matters

Posted by Food Forensics - RSA,

How true and relevant this article is. In South Africa the despicable, horrendous "Imitation Substance/s" labeled,declared and sold as GENUINE (BOVINE) DAIRY Product/s is ASTRONOMICAL and has been for for in excess of 20 years and continues unabated as of June 2012.

YES! the Governmental Food Regulating Authorities are fully aware, yet REFUSE to intervene whatsoever/howsoever against the F&B Industry's in any meaningful way, as much as it is a prohibited/illegal practice in the Country!!

They even REFUSE to inform the unsuspecting public/consumer/customer whatsoever/howsoever. So how does a unsuspecting customer and consumer make educated and informed decisions as to what they have and or will or will not consume?

So much for respect,morals and ethics etc etc. A so called Democratic Country and Government should be affording its citizens, to say the least!

Fraud, Collusion and Financial Greed for the chosen few once again,is glaringly obvious to say the least!! AND ITS NOT JUST OCCURRING IN AFRICA!

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