Consumers know there’s no milk in soymilk, producers say
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2017 – Soybean producers and the makers of soy food products are fighting back against draft legislation that would restrict the marketing of soymilk.
In a letter to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) took aim at the bill, S. 130. Referred to as the Dairy Pride Act, the bill would prohibit the term “milk” from being used with soymilk and soymilk-based products, under the premise that the term “milk” is misleading to consumers.
“This legislation is unnecessary as no confusion in the market exists,” ASA President Ron Moore argued in the letter. SANA President Wendy Behr, noted that the term “soymilk” has been in commercial use since 1947. “Consumers of soymilk clearly understand that the product is derived from soybeans rather than bovine milk, and a large percentage consume it for just that reason due to dietary choices or restrictions,” she said.
Rejecting the contention of confusion in the marketplace, the letter cited a 2006 SANA study in which not one of more than 800 respondents said they believed cow’s milk to be an ingredient in soymilk. Moore and Behr also highlighted the growth of the soyfoods market, which created more than $4.5 billion in value in 2013.
In the letter, Moore and Behr underscored the dual nature of the soybean industry as both a supplier of feed for dairy cows, as well as a supplier of soybeans and soybean meal to soyfoods producers.
“As farmers, many ASA members also raise dairy cows,” they wrote, and “all soybean farmers are feed providers to the dairy industry. More than 2 million metric tons of soybean meal feed American dairy cows each year. We understand the crisis in the dairy market and have publicly stated our support for revision of dairy policies in the next farm bill,” they wrote. “At the same time, soyfoods and in particular the soymilk market is not only a growing one for our industry, it is a key point of connection between farmers and consumers.”
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This morning’s letter follows a separate letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent by SANA last week, in which the organization concluded that use of the name "soymilk" complies with FDA regulations on common or usual names, and noted that soymilk has been included in USDA materials dating back to 1963.
A full copy of the letter can be found by clicking here.
Introduced last month, the Dairy Pride Act has drawn the endorsements of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which say steps need to be taken to defend the integrity of federal food labeling standards and prevent the misbranding of dairy imitators.
“For too long, the FDA has turned a blind eye to the misbranding of imitation dairy products, despite the decades-old federal law that milk comes from animals, not vegetables or nuts,” NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said in a Jan. 12 news release. “None of these imitators provides the same high quality and quantity of nutrition offered by real milk.”
He said the bill, sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., would “simply ensure that FDA enforces current law by requiring marketers of these imitation products to call them something other than milk.”
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