Have you ever come across something so dumb it leaves you speechless? I give you the latest in dumb government: What products should be called milk?

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced an amendment that would have stopped “spending on a Food and Drug Administration study on what can be marketed as milk” because the FDA wants “to start cracking down” on those who use “milk” for items like soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. The Senate defeated the amendment with a vote of 14-84.

The powerful dairy industry, along with the FDA, claims the actions are strictly to protect the consumer.

From The Washington Examiner (emphasis mine):

Currently the FDA’s language defines “milk” a “lacteal secretion” from a cow, so products such as soy, rice, almond, or coconut milk do not meet the definition. The FDA has these definitions, known as “standards of identity,” to protect consumers from being tricked into buying something different from what they expect.

The dairy industry argues that the plant-based alternatives don’t contain the same levels of vitamins and minerals, and so they shouldn’t be marketed as being similar to dairy milk.

If you are over the age of 10-years-old and think almonds, soybeans, or coconuts lactate you need to go back to elementary school. From Roll Call:

“Consumers are not deceived by these labels,” said Lee. “No one buys almond milk under the false illusion that it came from a cow. They buy it because it didn’t come from a cow.”

The dairy industry wants to restrict plant-based products from being called milk, hoping to put soy, almond, coconut and other milk substitutes at a competitive disadvantage.

Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin called the amendment “an attack on dairy farmers” and said it would upend the FDA’s nutrition innovation strategy. Last year Baldwin introduced a measure that would ban the term “milk” for nondairy products, but it never saw committee or floor action.

“These labeling requirements play right into the hands of the large, cronyist food industries that want to place new, innovative products at a disadvantage,” said Lee in a statement last week.

Here is the Merriam-Webster’s definition of milk:

1 a : a fluid secreted by the mammary glands of females for the nourishment of their young
b (1) : milk from an animal and especially a cow used as food by people (2) : a food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and is used similarly to cow’s milk coconut milk soy milk

2 : a liquid resembling milk in appearance: such as
a : the latex of a plant
b : the contents of an unripe kernel of grain

Even FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb acknowledged this definition in the dictionary. It’s not enough to make him change his mind as he argued: “that milk might not be an appropriate name for the nonanimal products because of fundamental nutritional differences.”

So it has absolutely nothing to do with deception or the supposed “fraud” the manufacturers of plant-based milks are committing!

Nutritional Differences

What are these nutritional differences? It depends on which milk alternative you look at.

A cup of 1% milk has 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of fiber. It also has about 800 mg of calcium and 400mg of potassium.

Soy milk has almost identical nutritional facts: 110 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber. Silk’s Original Soymilk has 45% of your recommended daily value of calcium.

Soy milk destroys Gottlieb’s argument.

However, other plant-based milks don’t come close to cow milk. Almond milk only has 30 grams of calories and 0 grams of fat, but only has 1 gram of protein. While almonds have great nutritional value, the nuts tend to lose a lot of those values during the milking process. Coconut milk only has 45 calories, but has no protein in it.

Still, that’s not enough of a reason to get the government involved! Consumers know (at least I hope you all know this) that these milks don’t come from cows. We choose to consume different milks because we want to.

The Dairy Industry

If you’re losing money due to competitors then what should you do? Maybe make your product better, work on advertisements, etc. Nah, the dairy industry has decided to turn to the government. From The Washington Examiner:

This anti-competitive move could prove staggeringly sweeping in scope: Market something as almond milk or coconut cream and you’ll quickly run afoul of government regulators. The dairy industry certainly stands to profit from this kind of handout and blatant attempt to suppress plant-based competition. But consumers? Not so much.

Consumers deeply value variety and Americans are increasingly choosing non-dairy alternatives for a host of reasons. For some, it’s a simple matter of taste. Others are lactose intolerant or have dairy sensitivities. Still others dislike the massive environmental footprint of conventional animal agriculture or wish to reduce animal products from their diets due to ethical concerns. Some people seek out plant-based milks to avoid cholesterol and saturated fat.

One thing is clear: Consumers are making informed decisions based on their preferences and aren’t confused. A 2006 survey asked more than 800 adults what soy milk is made out of, and exactly one person answered cow’s milk. People know what they’re getting and have every right to continue knowing.

Jibran Khan at National Review concluded this nonsense is “an attempt to outsource lawmaking to the FDA and put into effect a piece of failed legislation pushed by the dairy industry earlier this year, the DAIRY PRIDE Act.” He continued:

The FDA’s war on non-dairy milk is part of a long-term effort to keep Americans committed to the idea that cow’s milk is an essential part of everyone’s daily diet. This belief, itself the product of decades of advertising and lobbying, is unfounded — and American consumers are catching on. For quite some time milk sales have been falling, yet the government still incentivizes excess production by dairy companies and then buys millions of dollars’ worth of surplus milk. That is, the taxpayer pays for both the overproduction and its “relief.”

I personally have never been a fan of milk. I use it in cereal but never drink the leftovers. I use it to dunk Oreos, but again I don’t drink the remaining milk. I love regular and Greek yogurt. I also love cheese. Why the push for MILK? I also take a calcium supplement.

The FDA is meant to “regulate fraud, drug quality, and food safety.” In other words, this has nothing to do with the FDA. Do you know of anyone who bought soy milk and couldn’t believe that it wasn’t cow’s milk? Khan added:

The pulpy juice of coconut has been called “coconut milk” for generations, because of its appearance. Peanut “butter” does not come from miniature cows. Gold and silver “leaf”— used for decoration in some teas, liquors, and desserts across the world — is not made of leaves at all, but from thinly hammered foils of those metals. People buy and use these items, and have for centuries, while fully understanding what it is they’re dealing with.

Consumers know the difference. Maybe the milk industry should go back to those popular milk celebrity ads.

[Featured image via YouTube]