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Ruling that the plaintiff’s claims are preempted by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), a federal court in California has dismissed a putative class action alleging Danone North America's Horizon Organic milk is not organic because it contains DHA. Brown v. Danone N. Am. LLC, No. 17-7325 (N.D. Cal., entered May 1, 2018). Noting that the Ninth Circuit has not considered whether the OFPA preempts state law challenges that "call into question whether organic products were properly certified as organic,” the court sided with decisions from the Eighth and Second Circuits holding that such challenges are preempted. “The labels clearly state that the milk is 'organic' and that the milk contains DHA, and the labels bear the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic certification logo," the court found. "The USDA database publicly shows that Horizon Organic milk with DHA is currently certified organic by the USDA, and has been…

A Maryland dairy has filed a First Amendment lawsuit challenging a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation requiring skim milk without vitamins A and D added to be labeled “imitation." S. Mountain Creamery, LLC v. FDA, No. 18-0738 (M.D. Pa., filed April 4, 2018). According to the complaint, South Mountain Creamery cannot selling its “all-natural, additive-free, pasteurized skim milk” in Pennsylvania because of FDA regulations mandating that skim milk sold in interstate commerce must contain the added vitamins. The creamery asserts that the fat-soluble vitamins dissipate before skim milk reaches the consumer, and FDA’s “own official materials discuss this issue.” According to the complaint, “The effect of the relevant regulations and laws is that any product consisting entirely of skim milk can never be labeled as ‘skim milk’ . . . [it] must be labeled as ‘imitation.’” The dairy alleges that the FDA definition misleads and confuses the public and that…

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has sent a letter asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the regulatory framework for cell-cultured food products. According to the letter, such food products include lab-grown meat and “animal-free” milk that can be produced from fermented yeast and proteins in cow’s milk. DeLauro requested a “comprehensive review” of the unique challenges in safety oversight, the regulations and labeling requirements that may already exist, and a determination on whether federal agencies have begun preparing for the product’s commercialization. “While not yet commercially available, the potential introduction of this new type of product into the nation’s food supply and economy raises many important questions,” DeLauro said in the letter. “To date, it remains unclear exactly how cell-cultured food products should be regulated . . . More information is needed for Congress to address this emerging sector in the United States and to ensure it…

Iowa State University researchers have reportedly developed an inexpensive method to test whether milk was produced by grass-fed cows. Fluorescence spectroscopy, which measures light to identify the amount of chlorophyll metabolized by cows, may help regulators enforce organic milk standards requiring cows to eat a minimum of 30 percent foraged grass. The researchers reportedly found that cows fed grass only had about three times as many chlorophyll metabolites as grain- and silage-fed cows, while the organic milk samples they tested had about twice as many chlorophyll metabolites as the grain- and silage-fed cows.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has notified the Good Food Institute (GFI) that the agency has been unable to reach a decision on the advocacy group's March 2017 petition requesting recognition for commonly used—if technically inaccurate, per FDA definitions—food names such as "almond milk," "soymilk," "almond butter" and "cashew butter." The letter informs GFI that the agency was "not able to reach a decision on your petition within the first 180 days of its receipt, nor as of the date of this letter, because of other agency competing priorities."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the availability of industry guidance titled, “Ultrafiltered Milk in the Production of Standardized Cheese and Related Cheese Products: Guidance for Industry.” The guidance advises manufacturers that FDA intends to exercise enforcement in the use of fluid ultrafiltered milk in cheese products.   Issue 645

As plant-based beverages appear on more store shelves, the definition of “milk” has become the center of a dispute involving legislatures, regulators, litigators and industry groups. Shook Partners Katie Gates Calderon and Lindsey Heinz, with Associate Elizabeth Fessler, explain the debate in “Dairy Vs. Plant-Based ‘Milks’: A Regulatory Standoff." While Canada and the EU have both ruled that plant-based products cannot be called “milk,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to take determinative action to ensure that products using "milk" contain cow milk, though it does define the term as “obtained by the milking of one or more healthy cows." Although FDA has warned plant-based beverage manufacturers, the agency has not taken enforcement action against such products and has never ruled on a 1997 petition to allow the use of the term “soymilk.” Moreover, legislation has been introduced in both houses of Congress (H.R. 778; S.130) that…

In the absence of action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consumer-advocacy and dairy trade groups are disputing whether plant-based beverages, such as those made from soy or almonds, can be called “milk.” The Good Food Institute (GFI) sent a July 31, 2017, letter to FDA requesting action on a 1997 citizen petition filed by the Soyfoods Association of America seeking recognition of the term “soy milk.” The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) answered with a statement the same day, saying the effort to alter food-labeling standards “falsely suggests that the products are nutritionally equivalent.” Although FDA has previously issued letters to producers of plant-based beverages warning that their use of the term “milk” is improper because such products do not contain dairy, the agency has never responded to the 1997 petition. NMPF argued that GFI “is mistaken” for trying to revive the 1997 petition and that “[n]othing…

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that plant-­based products cannot use milk­- or dairy-­related terms for product names or in marketing because the terms are “exclusively” reserved for animal-­milk products under EU law. Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb eV v. Tofu Town.com GmbH, Case C­ 422/16 (order entered June 14, 2017). Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb eV, a German trade group, asked a regional German court for an injunction against Tofu Town, a producer of vegetarian and vegan products marketed with names such as “veggie cheese,” “Soyatoo tofu butter” and “rice spray cream.” The regional court referred the dispute to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. The court found that EU Regulation 1308/2013 reserves the term “milk” for animal-­derived products such as cheese, cream, butter, yogurt and kefir, and further, non­-bovine products must specify the animal species from which the milk originates because the regulation defines milk as the product…

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint arguing an advertisement for Arla Foods’ organic milk was misleading because it included the statements “Good for the land” and “helping support a more sustainable future.” ASA reviewed evidence the company provided about its organic farming methods but concluded that the dairy had failed to substantiate its claim that organic milk production has an “overall positive impact on the environment, taking into account its full life cycle.” Accordingly, the agency ruled that the ad was misleading and told Arla not to make environmental claims about their products unless they could be substantiated.   Issue 637

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