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Senate Caves to Big Dairy, Will Continue Funding the FDA’s Study of the Definition of “Milk”

Senate Caves to Big Dairy, Will Continue Funding the FDA’s Study of the Definition of “Milk”

Are there people who actually believe almonds or soybeans lactate!?

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]


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The FDA lost their mind a long time ago. “…FDA’s language defines “milk” a “lacteal secretion” from a cow…” Really? What about goats, sheep, etc? They going to force us to call goat milk gilk? Sheep milk shilk? Common sense apparently does not apply to federal agencies.

    Milhouse in reply to TxDan. | August 2, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Goat milk and sheep milk must be labeled as such, not simply as “milk”. And that’s fair enough. So why can’t soy milk or rice milk be treated the same way?

      Alan McIntire in reply to Milhouse. | August 2, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      Using that logic, Cow milk should be specifically labeled as milk from cows.

        Milhouse in reply to Alan McIntire. | August 2, 2018 at 2:42 pm

        Consumers expect “milk” with no qualifier to be from cows, so that is indeed the law, and nobody’s complaining about it.

          MajorWood in reply to Milhouse. | August 2, 2018 at 7:30 pm

          Now I can envision them calling it “almond whitener” which will evoke the wrath of the cleaning products lobby. And then someone will claim a racist microaggression every time they go to fourbux. It is a never ending non-0issue.

        userpen in reply to Alan McIntire. | August 2, 2018 at 3:46 pm

        How about milk of magnesia?

          MajorWood in reply to userpen. | August 2, 2018 at 3:58 pm

          Or propofol, which we called “milk of amnesia” at Hopkins.

          Milhouse in reply to userpen. | August 2, 2018 at 4:16 pm

          Again, it requires the qualifier. If you were sold that under the guise of “milk” you would not be happy. The issue here is that the FDA proposes banning non-milk milks even with the appropriate qualifiers.

    The obnoxious thing about this is that the definition of “milk” is for milk sold without a modifier. (Anybody who has ever had non-cow milk without warning can appreciate this; similar to the difference between a “fried egg” and a “fried duck egg.”)

    Which means “almond milk” and any other examples are automatically outside of the scope.

    But that wouldn’t allow the dairy council to force a wide range of competitors to completely redesign their packaging. Nevermind that packing clearly indicates that the “milk” aspect is far, far less important than the “from something not an animal” aspect.

The short answer to your question is yes.

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
P.T. Barnum

Beyond that, in common parlance and usage, when the word “milk” is used, the first thing that pops into people’s minds is a mother’s milk, be it a cow, a goat, or a human, and NOT something squeezed out of a nut or bean. And I’ll bet that’s true of you too. So in that sense, what we are talking about here is truth in advertising.

    txvet2 in reply to maxmillion. | August 2, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    That’s why the word “almond”, “soy”, or “coconut” precedes the word “milk”. What do you do – read everything backwards?

    Milhouse in reply to maxmillion. | August 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    “Milk”, yes. Which is why only cow milk is allowed to be sold simply as “milk”. But when I hear “goat milk” or “camel milk” I expect it to come from a goat or a camel respectively; and when I hear “soy milk” or “flaxseed milk” I expect it to come from those sources, and absolutely not from any animal.

    In fact if they want to pursue truth in advertising they should crack down on “non-dairy creamers”, most of which contain casein, which is milk protein. Many consumers don’t know this, and expect something advertised as “non-dairy” to be, well, non-dairy.

    Paul In Sweden in reply to maxmillion. | August 2, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    MaxMillion, I agree. “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.”

    What makes anyone believe that children are taught anything remotely relevant or biologically accurate in k-12 education?

    Not only do I think a Milk label regulation is unnecessary, I also want the government to ban “Do Not Use in Shower” warning labels on hair dryer cords. It is time to walk the walk and talk the talk of evolution. Every little bit helps.

You would think this could be ended administratively, but Gotlieb seems to be of the same ilk as the FDA bureaucracy.

Q. “What products should be called milk?”

A. Jobs which unions have been milking for years; and Taxpayers which government at all levels have milking forever.

Never forget we have actual bunny inspectors and more people working for the department of agriculture than folks who own working farms.

It’s so cute that people are whining about how the government regulates how the word “milk” is used when selling products.

So where have all you whiner been for the past 50+ years?

Do you recall when Hershey wanted to change the definition of chocolate to allow vegetable oil? Where was the outrage then?

How about when the definition of potato chip was redefined so that Pringles couldn’t call their production a potato chip?

And what about oleomargarine?

I guess, like Leftists, you’re selective on outrage. One only wonders why now and not then….

    you mean before the internet was a thing people never complained about these things?
    although I am sure you are wrong I can’t prove it by linking to statements that were never posted…..

    farmermom in reply to tphillip. | August 3, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Dairy farmers have been fighting this battle for many years. They have been asking the FDA to enforce the standard of identity for at least 10 years. The FDA has refused to do so.
    One of the problems is that many people do, indeed, believe that “almond milk,” for example, is cow milk with almond flavoring added. Just the same as “chocolate milk” is cow milk flavored with chocolate. I don’t think that most people would assume that “chocolate milk” is a few ground-cocoa beans in a quart of water. Yet “almond milk” is a few ground-up almonds in a quart of water. Obviously, the profit margin on a quart of water is much higher than it is on a quart of milk.
    The nutritional content of any plant-based beverage is not the same as that of milk, which is defined as “the lacteal secretion of a mammal” (not necessarily of a cow.) For further information, I would suggest referring to the Weston A. Price Foundation, and not to clickbait produced by PETA, which tends to be somewhat short on science.
    Soy is especially problematic, not so much because of what it does not contain, but because of the ingredients which it contains and milk does not. Soymilk has very high levels of phytoestrogens, which act similarly to estrogen. The role of soy in health is not determined. Those who do not wish to take a chance should be aware of that, especially in soy infant formula. As they say in this study, there have been no major studies on the effects of soy on the developing reproductive system.
    A major problem is the “standard + modifier” system of nutritional identification. It is somewhat confusing, but basically the compound name, such as “almond milk” is allowed to assume the nutritional profile of the standard, i.e. “milk” plus the nutritional profile of the modifier, i.e. “almond.” Thus the nutritional profile of “almond milk” would be assumed to approximate the nutritional standard of “milk.
    This is just plain wrong.
    Yes, consumers are confused. If the FDA does not enforce the existing standards regulating the identity of “milk,” the confusion will only get worse. And it’s deliberate. Remember the profit motive. Just as someone cited the definition in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, people will cite the FDA ruling. Dictionaries nowadays no longer consider themselves arbiters of what is correct. They consider that their purpose is to show what is common usage.
    Make no mistake, this enforcement action is not being pushed by “the dairy industry. It is being pushed by dairy farmers and those concerned about nutrition. The dairy industry–large commercial processors is making lots of profit from plant-based beverages. Silk was first marketed by WhiteWave Organics. It wa taken over by Dean Foods, spun off, and sold to Danone, one of the world’s largest dairy processors. They’ve changed the definition of milk from being from a dairy cow to being a cash cow.

      Milhouse in reply to farmermom. | August 3, 2018 at 10:52 am

      One of the problems is that many people do, indeed, believe that “almond milk,” for example, is cow milk with almond flavoring added

      Bullshit. I’m sure if you search hard enough you’ll find some idiots who thinks that, but I’d bet they are fewer than the idiots who don’t know milk comes from cows in the first place, and would be disgusted if they knew.

      Almond milk has been known, by that name, for at least 750 years, and probably much longer. For your industry to come along now and usurp the name is the height of chutzpah.

This is all about the FDA assisting the dairy industry with their marketing. If the FDA were TRULY interested in accurate labeling, then every product with the word “milk” in its title should have a qualifier before it; i.e. cow’s, goat’s, almond, soy, etc. Then everyone would be happy.

Dear Abby,

I am breastfeeding my child. Should I eat more almonds?

If truth in advertising is truly a concern, how about labeling cow’s milk:

“Contains lactose and pus.”

After drinking Silk light and Silk light vanilla for years, I really dislike the sour taste of cow’s milk.

    userpen in reply to MrE. | August 2, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Silk light? We need to commission a study to determine the definition of “silk” in order to protect the silk industry.

    Jimbino in reply to MrE. | August 2, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Our straight-from-the-farm milk always had some manure in it.

It gets even sillier. There are many varieties of non-dairy ice cream, made of such things as soy, rice, almond, or coconut. My favorite (though too expensive unless it’s on sale) is Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss. However if you visit that site you will notice that although the page title (on top of the browser) straightforwardly calls the product “Coconut Bliss Dairy-Free Ice Cream”, nowhere on the site itself will you find it called that. That’s because they’re not allowed to. They have to use terms like “Frozen Dessert”, or “Ice Confection”, or “Ice-Cream-Like Dessert”. How stupid.

(Apparently they can get away with calling it “the evolution of ice cream”. And they can get away with talking about their vision of a dairy-free ice cream. They just can’t call the product itself ice cream, even with the “dairy free” modifier. Which is stupid, since anybody seeing that modifier would expect it to be completely dairy free, and would feel cheated if it actually did contain some milk.)

    D.GALVIS in reply to Milhouse. | August 2, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Yes they are expensive. We make an ultra-premium nondairy that retails for nearly $10 half pint. We naturally sell it for less direct to the public but the cost inputs are high.

    We are working to knock the price down but ultra premium is ultra premium. The big guys you mentioned can go there but we’ll catch them in price as they flounder in quality.

      Milhouse in reply to D.GALVIS. | August 2, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      What’s your product called, and how can one buy it directly? If it’s that expensive I would not be a regular customer, but I’d like to try it at least once.

Wait till the FDA hears about egg creams!

If the dairy farms are worried about competition from soy and almond milks, wait until this finally hits the market. (Last I heard they’re hoping for 2019 or ’20.)

“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.”

No, no, no! This is the age of self-identification and ‘my truth’. Hater.

What is, specifically, fat free half and half? If it is half cream, how can it be fat free?
No doubt, we need BIGGER government to sort this out for us.

    txvet2 in reply to RITaxpayer. | August 2, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    As it happens, I have a container right here. Ingredients: Grade A non-fat milk, milk, corn syrup, (and several preservatives/additives). I guess the half and half part is milk and non-fat milk. If that isn’t confusing enough, on the opposite side of the container HEB brags that it’s made from select ingredients that never include high-fructose corn syrup which would seem to indicate that they’re using LOW-fructose corn syrup in this product. I’ll have to look the next time I’m in HEB to see what the regular version contains, although I’d guess you’re right about the cream.

rustyshamrock | August 2, 2018 at 3:12 pm

I always thought that, like chocolate milk coming from cows that ate chocolate, almond milk came from cows that ate almonds. (Though I do admit that I DO have a problem with “human” milk!)

The Senate defeated amendment that would block funding…about how much funding? Five million dollars, five hundred million dollars, five billion dollars, or was it something really outrageous?

    Milhouse in reply to userpen. | August 2, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Any funding at all. Lee’s amendment would have forbidden the FDA from spending even one cent on conducting its proposed study, which it needs in order to issue a new regulation. Thus it would have stopped the regulation cold.

This is how the Republic falls, just like in Rome: they started mis-labeling dairy products.

Yo Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin!

Check out Wild Island Vegan & NonDairy ICE CREAM.

Yes. There. I said it!!! ICE CREAM (using my best Mark Levin impression)


So many people can no longer eat ice cream. Well we have a formula that is changing peoples life and its actually GOOD FOR THEM. So we damn sure are going to call it ICE CREAM. Tammy. SO you can kiss our coconut shells.

Rather than bash “Big Dairy,” whatever that is, the proper way to look at it is these non-milk hoaxters want to pretend they’re milk and piggyback onto real milk. As in, “How can we fool our customers into thinking they’re drinking milk.”

    Milhouse in reply to maxmillion. | August 2, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Nonsense. They are not pretending anything, and not trying to fool anyone (let alone succeeding at it). They are honestly describing their product in the terms their customers expect. Unlike makers of non-dairy ice cream, who must use roundabout terms their customers don’t expect, because the FDA won’t let them call their product what it is.

    Voice_of_Reason in reply to maxmillion. | August 2, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    there are an infinite number of alternate universes.

    in NONE of them does a competent person get fooled into thinking soymilk or almond milk are adtually cow milk.

    “Almond milk” is a recipe that goes back several hundred years as a recipe that makes a non-dairy, milk-like substance that can 1) be eaten by people on a strict abstinence from animal products (ancient Lent requirement) and 2) substitutes for milk rather nicely without being a pain in the rump to cook with, such as when you want to cook something in “milk” but don’t want it to scald.

    Shall you next go to war on Tres Leche products because they only use cow’s milk in three forms, rather than three different milks like it says?

      artichoke in reply to Foxfier. | August 3, 2018 at 8:11 am

      It’s not milk. And I didn’t really know the custom for “tres leches” but if it doesn’t follow that custom, well then I think it should not be called that. If I buy some “tres leches”, even with my limited Spanish I’d like the customary version of it.

        It’s not being sold as milk.

        It’s being sold as almond milk.

        Just because you’re not familiar with the recipe doesn’t mean those who are need to bow to it.

Will the next step be to crack down on “Peanut Butter”?

    artichoke in reply to EdD. | August 3, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Good point, but it would be harder to change this because peanut butter is such a traditional product. Also, the dairy industry now distinguishes their product as “creamery butter”.

      Milhouse in reply to artichoke. | August 3, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Almond milk is a lot more traditional than peanut butter (which in some places is called peanut paste).

      Milhouse in reply to artichoke. | August 3, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      Peanut butter was invented in 1884. Peanuts themselves were unknown in Europe before the 16th century. Almond milk, on the other hand, was a common staple by the 13th century at the latest.

Voice_of_Reason | August 2, 2018 at 7:42 pm

the rent-seeking scumbags in the dairy iindustry need to swallow my man milk.

Voice_of_Reason | August 2, 2018 at 7:49 pm

let’s use the powers of government to quash:
– milk of magnesia
– the milky way galaxy
– milking venomous snakes and arachnids to develop anti-venin
– goat milk, yak milk, sheep’s milk, camel milk
– milky way candy bars

we wouldn’t want consumers to get confused, would we?

    artichoke in reply to Voice_of_Reason. | August 3, 2018 at 8:08 am

    “Milky” is not as specific as “milk”, by the rules of common English usage. So the “Milky Way” is said to look milk-like, but nobody ever thinks that’s actual milk up there in the sky, not even kids being shown for the first time.

    So the linguistic solution might be “milky almonds” or even “milkified almonds”, but their advertising folks can decide what they like. Just don’t call it milk, because it contains no milk.

Voice_of_Reason | August 2, 2018 at 7:55 pm

or jumbo shrimp!

Apparently, the Senate has nothing better to do.

The GOP caves.

What else is new.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

What kind of jerk votes for these rino rats (Koch Brothers aside?)

ugottabekiddinme | August 2, 2018 at 9:54 pm

“While almonds have great nutritional value, the nuts tend to lose a lot of those values during the milking process.”

Do tell. Exactly how would you describe the almonds’ “milking process”? Is there a special type of almonds with udders?

Do almond farmers make their way in the dark, predawn hours, milking machines in hand, to go through the orchard?

Inquiring minds want to know.

    It’s a bitch getting the milking machine hooked up to their teeny tiny teats

    artichoke in reply to ugottabekiddinme. | August 3, 2018 at 8:04 am

    No, and your confusion is because we don’t even have common language for what they do to almonds to make the diluted puree that’s sold as “almond milk”.

    We should have a different word for the diluted puree. It has a consistency like milk, or like syrup, or like other liquids. But it’s not milk.

      Milhouse in reply to artichoke. | August 3, 2018 at 11:01 am

      We have a word for it, and have done for a lot longer than Modern English has existed: in every known language it’s known as “almond milk”, precisely the name that the FDA now wants to ban.

Bucky Barkingham | August 3, 2018 at 7:40 am

How will the FDA require the producers to label their products, as a non-lacteal secretion (NLS)? So much for the NLS of human kindness. Will FDA also regulate NLS weed? I could go on but I believe I have NLS-ed this for all its worth.

The author doesn’t like milk and throws out the extra. So that’s an unbiased source …

What’s wrong with “milk” meaning “milk”? There’s an old SCOTUS case about the meaning of “filled milk”, whether it can still be called milk after the addition of plant oils. Milk is pretty basic (even the author uses it for certain things but throws out the extra) and I don’t mind protecting the definition.

    Milhouse in reply to artichoke. | August 3, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Nobody objects to reserving the unmodified term “milk” for cow’s milk alone. In our culture that’s what we expect. But “almond milk” does not mean cow’s milk, it means almond milk. It’s meant that for longer than many commonly-used terms have existed. It’s meant that for a lot longer than the expectation that unmodified “milk” comes from cows.