The Dairy Pride Act, which stands for “Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act,” was introduced in January 2017 calling for the US FDA to enforce existing food labeling standards that bar non-dairy foods from using dairy product names on their labels.
“I’d like to know how to make an acronym for a solution looking for a problem because it’s essentially what the Dairy Pride Act is,” CEO of Good Karma Foods, Doug Radi, said at Food Vision USA in Chicago.
“The FDA has weighed in by not weighing in by saying ‘we don’t care about this issue.’”
“The judicial system already voted – three large class actions have been thrown out of court last year and every judge says under no reasonable circumstances does a consumer think you’re drinking soy milk that comes from a cow,” he continued.
“The consumer is not confused.”
What is actually confusing the consumer?
However, what would confuse the consumer is if the plant-based industry did change their labeling and got rid of terms such as “milk” and “cheese” replacing them with unfamiliar names, according to the Food Vision USA plant-based panel.
“It’s [Dairy Pride Act] confusing to consumers and it would hurt sales, which again, is obviously the intent,” Dr Liz Specht, senior scientist at The Good Food Institute, said at Food Vision USA in Chicago.
“If you’re having to call your product ‘bean juice’, consumers don’t know what to do with that. They know what to do with soy milk or coconut milk.”
Also speaking at Food Vision USA, founder of vegan dairy alternative brand Miyoko’s Kitchen, Miyoko Schinner, said her company has decided “to go boldly into the future” by keeping its product names the same because changing “vegan cheese” to “cultured nut product” would only cause more consumer confusion, she said.
“We’re going to give consumers what they want, which is what they call it, which is ‘cheese’ or ‘milk’ but modify with words like vegan,” Schinner said.
“That’s what the standards of identity are supposed to be about, it’s supposed to prevent consumer confusion.”
Success of Dairy Pride Act
Radi, who has been working in the plant-based industry for 10 years has seen the battle over traditional dairy wording come up before.
“This issue pulses every four or five years,” Radi said. “This has probably been one of the most direct attacks on the plant-based industry.”
Schinner added that her company has no plans to change labeling unless the FDA directly demands it.
“I don’t think the Dairy Pride Act has legs really,” she said.
“What we’re most worried about is this thing being slipped into an 'ag' bill or an appropriations bill,” Radi added.