Rep Joyce, PA Farm Bureau, join forces to make bill aimed at mislabeled non-dairy products

09 March 2023- Today, Representative John Joyce M.D. (PA-13), along with Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02), Mike Simpson (ID-02), Angie Craig (MN-02), Derrick Van Orden (WI-03), and Joe Courtney (CT-02), introduced bipartisan legislation – the Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (DAIRY PRIDE Act) of 2023 – to prevent milk alternatives or plant-based products from being marketed or misbranded using terms commonly associated with dairy products.

Dairy foods are a critical part of a healthy diet – rich in vital nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and potassium – and they offer countless health benefits such as lowering the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Unfortunately, plant-based foods or imitation dairy alternatives lack the same health and nutrient benefits as real milk, cheese, or yogurt derived from dairy cows. 

In order to protect consumers and avoid marketing efforts that could mislead the public about the nutritional benefits of what they are purchasing and consuming, the DAIRY PRIDE Act of 2023 would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the labeling of a plant-based products or dairy alternatives as “milk.” This legislation would correct recent FDA guidance that would inaccurately permit plant-based products to enjoy the benefits of using dairy labels, such as milk, without offering the same nutritional values, as those found in dairy products.

“Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers produce high-quality milk, cheeses, ice creams, yogurts, and more – providing our Commonwealth with both nutritious and delicious products,” said Congressman Joyce. “The nutritional value and benefits derived from dairy products cannot be confused with plant-based alternatives. I am proud to lead this legislation to support dairy farmers across our nation.”

“Consumers have a wide variety of options when it comes to milk and non-dairy alternatives in the grocery store – each offering different nutrition values and health benefits. While this broad selection is good, we must ensure products are labeled accurately so families know exactly what they are getting when they checkout,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I am proud to support this legislation to ensure product transparency across our food economy. I will continue working to bring the voices of New Hampshire’s dairy farmers, producers, and consumers to Congress.”

“Milk comes from a cow—not an almond or coconut or any other fruit or vegetable,” said Congressman Mike Simpson. “As the co-chair of the Congressional Dairy Caucus and representing the state with the third-largest production of dairy, I am fully committed to supporting the dairy producers across the country and empowering consumers to make informed nutritional decisions. I am proud to cosponsor the Dairy Pride Act that would require FDA enforcement action to provide honest nutritional labelling for consumers.”

“Milk comes from a mammal – it is that simple. The nutritional value of whole milk for child development and as an integral part of a healthy diet throughout life cannot be overstated. Our dairy farmers work incredibly hard to produce quality products and consumers deserve to know what they are purchasing and consuming. The DAIRY PRIDE act will serve both these purposes admirably,” said Congressman Van Orden.

“Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) has called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to vigorously enforce food standards regarding the labeling of dairy products and prohibit the misleading labeling of nut- and plant-based food products as “milk” or other common dairy names. Failing to do so is an abdication of the FDA’s responsibility to assure science-based product labeling for consumers,” said Chris Hoffman, President of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. “This is important because plant-based dairy alternatives are not nutritionally comparable to milk from a mammal. For these reasons, PFB is proud to support the DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would require FDA to take enforcement action against manufacturers labeling non-dairy products as dairy. FDA must enforce their current definition, which does not include plant-based alternatives as milk. The DAIRY PRIDE Act does not prevent the sale of non-dairy products; it only addresses the labeling issue, which is the root of the problem. Consumers deserve the transparency necessary to make the decisions for their health.”

“Dairy farmers work hard to earn the trust of America’s families by producing healthy affordable products,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “The DAIRY PRIDE Act is a positive step toward ensuring labels at the supermarket accurately represent the items consumers decide to put on their tables. Families deserve to be fully informed on the products they purchase.”

“FDA’s unwillingness to enforce dairy standards of identity is harming public health and violates the entire purpose of the standards in the first place, protecting Americans. FDA’s last three Senate-confirmed commissioners from both parties have each acknowledged the problem caused by imitation beverages that use dairy terms, and medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree with this concern. NMPF thanks Representatives John Joyce and Ann Kuster for their dedication to ensuring FDA does its job to protect Americans, a responsibility that Congress must fulfill by passing the DAIRY PRIDE Act,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “We applaud Representatives Joyce and Kuster for moving quickly with the reintroduction of the DAIRY PRIDE Act to make clear to FDA that its recent guidance on labeling imitator beverages is unacceptable and will not stand. NMPF looks forward to continuing to work with House and Senate champions on this issue to ensure FDA does its job and enforces dairy standards of identity.”

“Pennsylvania dairy farmers are proud to produce the nutritional superior dairy products from our farms. Milk is a unique and nutrient-dense food product that is highly valued in our diets throughout the world, and we need to maintain consumer confidence in milk and ask that imitation milks reframe from creating confusion with milk in the marketplace.  We applaud the efforts of Congressman Joyce in supporting the DAIRY PRIDE Act to maintain the identity of milk while supporting our 5,000 Pennsylvania dairy farm families,” said David R. Smith Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association.