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Crying Over Spilt Milk
Late last month, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) filed a comment on The Good Food Institute’s petition. Our petition urges FDA to allow the use of compound names on plant-based dairy labels, such as soy milk. 

At the close of the comment period, GFI’s petition had more than 100 comments, demonstrating keen interest in this topic. Several comments were form letters from individual dairies opposing the petition. (The dairy industry also supports the Dairy Pride Act, which would ban the use of terms like “milk” and “cheese” on labels for plant-based foods such as soy milk.) 

The most important thing you need to know about the NMPF’s comment? The group concedes the point that, in practice, the FDA has allowed the use of compound names for a long time—at least 17 years, NMPF argues. 

However, that’s the only place we agree. 

The comment repeatedly misconstrues GFI’s position and First Amendment law. Here are three examples: 

  • The producers ignore the fact that soy milk is a traditional food and has been consumed in the United States since at least the 1930s. No one thinks that soy and almond milk come from soy and almond cows.
  • They fail to acknowledge that consumers choose soy milk and other plant-based milks for a variety of reasons—they don’t like cow’s milk, they want something different, or they’re concerned about cholesterol or the treatment of dairy cows.
  • The producers’ narrow view of the First Amendment is incorrect. The government is only allowed to restrict commercial speech if it will further a substantial government interest with a narrowly tailored solution. Supporting the dairy industry over its competition does not meet that requirement. The NMPF also completely ignores a recent case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which found that restrictions on how producers can communicate with consumers on beverage labels violated the First Amendment. 

FDA has not made a final decision on our petition. We will let you know when it does. 

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