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A survey of 1,000 participants conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation has purportedly found that between 24 and 28 percent of respondents either believed or did not know whether plant-based milks contained cow's milk. The organization reported that between seven and nine percent of respondents identified rice, cashew, almond, soy and coconut milk as containing cow's milk, while between 16 and 20 percent of respondents answered that they did not know whether the products contains cow's milk. The survey also asked about the participants' understanding of almond butter and peanut butter; eight percent answered that they believed almond butter contains cow's milk, while 15 percent believed that peanut butter contains the ingredient.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has solicited public input on questions related to plant-based substitutes for dairy products such as almond or soy milk. The agency's request for information (RFI) seeks responses on three points: "How do you use plant-based products?" "What is your understanding of dairy terms like milk, yogurt and cheese when they are used to label plant-based products?" "Do you understand the nutritional characteristics of plant-based products? Do you know how they’re different from each other? Do you know how their nutritional qualities compare with dairy products?" "The RFI opened today is an important step in our efforts to take a look at how we have been applying the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act with respect to food names and our existing standards of identity," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "The comments we receive will help inform the development of draft guidance…

The California legislature has passed a bill that would require retail food facilities to make the default beverages sold with children's meals "water, sparkling water or flavored water, as specified, or unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative, as specified." Flavored waters may not contain "added natural or artificial sweeteners," while nondairy milk alternatives must contain fewer than 130 calories. In addition, a restaurant's menu and advertisements must display the default beverages. The bill would "not prohibit a restaurant’s ability to sell, or a customer’s ability to purchase, an alternative beverage instead of the default beverage offered with the children’s meal, if requested by the purchaser of the children’s meal." The bill has been presented to Governor Jerry Brown for approval.

In a forthcoming Brooklyn Law Review article, professors from George Washington University Law School and Lund University argue that one solution to the definition dispute between cow's milk and plant-based milk producers may be to label plant-based milks as "mylk." Gambert et al., "Got Mylk? The Disruptive Possibilities of Plant Milk," Brooklyn L. Rev., forthcoming 2019. The professors assert that plant-based milk producers should embrace a new word, such as the "whimsical" and "creative" "mylk," to avoid negative associations with "milk with an 'i,'" including "exploitation and oppression – of women, people of color, and nonhuman animals." "At the end of the day, the 'milk wars' on both sides of the Atlantic serve as a barometer of plant milk’s role as a disruptive force in the millennia-long relationship between humans and milk. By replacing the 'i' with a 'y,' plant milk – or mylk – advocates can signal to the…

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has vetoed a state environmental bond bill containing a provision that would allow raw milk sales at farm stands and via home delivery, citing a need for stricter regulation of raw milk. “Consumption of unpasteurized milk can result in foodborne illness and possible death due to bacterial infections, especially among infants, children, pregnant women, immunosuppressed patients, and the elderly,” Baker’s veto states. “The risk of foodborne illness due to consumption of raw milk increases with the number of people handling the raw milk prior to consumption, and the length of time between production and consumption. As such, it is important that any expansion of the sale of raw milk in the Commonwealth be done in such a way that it protects those who choose to consume it.” The veto includes suggested updates that would tighten restrictions on raw milk, including the establishment of licenses maintained by…

At a speaking engagement, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reportedly expressed that the agency’s standards of identity for milk have not been enforced. According to the standard of identity, milk is “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows,” a definition that does not include non-dairy beverages produced from almonds, soy, rice or coconuts that are labeled as milk. Admitting that “an almond doesn’t lactate,” Gottlieb reportedly indicated that FDA will begin collecting public comments before determining its approach to the issue.

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a challenge to a bus poster sponsored by Viva, a vegan-advocacy group, that claimed the hormones in cow's milk have been "linked to cancer." Viva asserted that consumers interpret the words “linked to” as a phrase “commonly used to express an association between two factors when there was a potential or likely relationship but not an absolute causative relationship." The group submitted several research papers in support of the ad claim, but ASA was unconvinced by each study, citing unrelated or overly broad subject matters as well as the inclusion of self-reported data. ASA concluded that "the claim 'milk contains 35 hormones, including oestrogen … some of these are linked to cancer', as it would be understood by consumers to mean that due to the presence of hormones, drinking cow’s milk could increase a person’s risk of developing cancer, had not been substantiated and…

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted against the 2018 Farm Bill in a 213-198 vote. Dissenting voters apparently cited a number of issues, with some rejecting the bill's changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and others protesting the legislature's failure to enact unrelated immigration measures. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R- La.) reportedly indicated that the House will vote on the bill again in late June 2018. Before the vote, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment to the bill that would have prevented federal agencies from regulating the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk sold for human consumption. The bill was rejected 331-79.

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…

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