For the second time in 10 years, National Milk Producers Federation has written to the Food and Drug Administration asking that the term "milk" be reserved for cow's milk, although it's OK with also using the word for goat, sheep or water buffalo milk — any of the various "mammalian lacteal secretions." The federation says the FDA should require that plant-based beverages be labeled something else, noting terms such as "drinks," "beverages" or even "imitation milk.
Over the past decade, such drinks have expanded from just soymilk, a millennia-old Asian beverage, to include "milks" from a variety of plants, including hemp and peanuts. With an increase in those who perceive plant-derived products as healthier and a growing Asian population accustomed to soymilk, the market for non-dairy "milk" products as well as non-dairy cheeses, yogurts and ice creams is on the increase.
The National Milk Producers group filed its first protest letter about the term "soymilk" in 2000 but received no answer, Galen says. In a subsequent letter to the FDA, the Soyfoods Association argued that as long as the word "milk" was qualified by "soy," consumers wouldn't be confused. The FDA seems inclined to stay out of it this round as well. "We evaluate all these communications, but we plan our actions based on what will make the most impact for the public health," says spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey.
Bonnie - Big Milk is deathly afraid because the new Dietary Guidelines may finally mention alternative forms of milk. They feel this could further erode milk's declining market share. In this case, Big Milk does not have a leg to stand on because they are up against Big Soy/Agra, which is just as powerful in how they can sway government policy.