DBA applauds proposals to stop mislabeling of imitation dairy products

The state’s largest dairy lobbying group today applauded three state lawmakers for a new legislative effort to stop the use of misleading labels on imitation milk and other “dairy” products.

Legislation proposed today by Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, and Reps. Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, and Loren Oldenburg, R-Viroqua, would ban the labeling of products as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient if the food is not made from the milk of a cow, sheep, goat or other mammals.

The following comments are from Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association and a farmer and cheesemaker in south-central Wisconsin.

“Our dairy farmers across the state applaud the efforts of Senators Marklein and Representatives Tranel and Oldenburg to create a clear distinction between real dairy foods and plant-based imitations.””The plant-based food industry increasingly masquerades its products as real dairy foods. This mislabeling confuses customers who often make judgments about a food’s nutritional value based on its name. Words do matter. Milk is milk, and cheese is cheese. Customers deserve transparency.

The results of a recent national survey about imitation cheese confirm the customer confusion:

  • About one-quarter of customers mistakenly think plant-based products that mimic cheese contain milk.
  • About one-third of customers think that plant-based imitation cheese contains protein, and 21 percent think that it is of a higher quality than dairy even though the imitations have little to no protein. Real dairy cheese has 7 grams of protein.
  • About one-quarter of customers purchase plant-based foods that mimic cheese because they believe them to be low in calories and fat and without additives. In reality, these plant-based foods contain an equal or comparable amount of fat and calories and substantially more additives than dairy cheeses.