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Dairy Foods Associations Petition FDA for Enforcement of “Milk” Designation


Jan 13, 2017


The dairy industry represented by the Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers’ Federation addressed a recent letter to the Food and Drug Administration to require the Agency to enforce label restrictions over the term “milk”. 

This is a response to the competition encountered by the dairy industry from vegetable-derived milk products.


Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers’ Federation said “in the many years since we first raised concerns about the misbranding of these products, we have seen an explosion of imitators attaching the word “milk” to everything from hemp to peas to algae. We don't need new regulations on this issue, we just need FDA to enforce those that we have on the books.”  It is generally conceded that milk can be defined as “the lacteal secretion obtained by the complete milking of healthy cows.”

A parallel situation, albeit not as critical, concerns egg substitutes to produce mayonnaise and alternatives with inferior functional properties promoted to replace eggs in baking and food preparation.

The claims made by Hampton Creek, producer of a non-egg mayonnaise-product were the subject of litigation with the FDA. The Agency allowed the trade name “Just Mayo™” despite the fact that the legal definition of mayonnaise requires incorporation of eggs in the formula.

The American Egg Board has generated extensive publicity to counter the use of alternatives in the baking industry.  The problem of substitution arose during the period of an unprecedented rise in the cost of pasteurized egg products following the 2015 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza.  Now that flocks have been restocked and prices have declined to normal levels with adequate availability, the use of eggs by the baking industry has increased based on contribution to product quality.

The U.S egg-production industry must maintain vigilance over the integrity of eggs. Currently we are well served by the UEP, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and the American Egg Board who are concerned with the image of eggs. We should carefully monitor events relating to milk substitutes impacting the dairy industry which previously condoned the growth of milk substitutes.