‘Milk’ products do need a label crackdown

As a proud dairy farmer, I must respond to the Viewpoint, “Milk Crackdown: Why?”. Every year, our farm hosts hundreds of school children and parents and every year, parents are stunned to learn that beverages labeled as some type of “milk” contain no dairy products. In fact, not to insult anyone’s intelligence, the first ingredient in these beverages is plain old water, then some of the byproduct (about 2% almonds), then cane sugar, sea salt, locus bean gum, sunflower lecithin, gellan gum and finally, some added vitamins. Yum!

You believe that these alternative “milk” beverages are labeled clearly and that the FDA should not insult anyone’s intelligence. I have to disagree. Yes, it is clearly labeled as almond milk, but the manufacturers have influenced retailers to place this product in the dairy cases of the stores, right next to real milk. Parents have told me that they thought almond milk was just almond-flavored milk, just like chocolate milk, so they bought it wanting some variety in their diet, only to find out it wasn’t milk at all. By offering these beverages in the same area as milk, consumers are misled into believing that these are actual dairy products because they are mixed in with milk. Because “milk” is a universal term understood by all, these manufacturers of alternative milk products know that they can sell their product to the unsuspecting consumer in the dairy cases. Would their product sell as well if it was in the beer cooler?

As a dairy farmer, I do think that the FDA doing its job protecting you, the consumer, from false or misleading product labeling is the greatest thing since sliced bread. You, as the consumer, should insist that they do their job so that can feel confident when you buy your food.