WASHINGTON, May 5, 2014 – The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) says the Food and Drug Administration is ignoring the mislabeling of dairy-specific names in food products with no milk content while over-focusing on certain types of sugars.
In a letter sent today as part of an FDA request for comment, NMPF asked why the agency spends time and effort clarifying the common name for “dried cane syrup” or “evaporated cane juice” – a type of dried sugar used as a food ingredient -- even as it allows soy, rice, nut and hemp products to define themselves as milk.
“Getting a sugar fix is fine and well, as long as the FDA also turns its attention to a problem that has been ignored for more than a decade,” said Beth Briczinski, NMPF vice president of dairy foods and nutrition. “Unfortunately, the agency’s lack of effort on misbranded and mislabeled imitation dairy products has left a bitter taste in our mouths,” she said. The letter cited “soy milk” and “rice yogurt” as examples.
NMPF acknowledged that FDA has warned several manufacturers about the mislabeling, but said “these actions have been too infrequent to be effective, essentially creating a labeling landscape free of enforcement.”
The group said it isn’t advising FDA about a name for any sweetener product, but instead it is questioning why the agency is devoting resources to the labeling effort.
“It seems rather disingenuous for the agency to utilize its often-referenced ‘limited resources’ to issue additional labeling guidance, while simultaneously not enforcing existing regulations pertaining to the identity of foods” including imitation dairy products, NMPF wrote in the letter.
NMPF noted that the letter is the latest in an effort dating back to 2000 in which the federation has urged the agency to enforce existing requirements for the labeling of imitation foods specifying that many milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream substitutes produced from vegetable or plant materials are not nutritionally equivalent to real dairy products.
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