Farm Progress

Lawmakers take aim at lab-grown “dairy” products

Baldwin, Risch deliver scathing letter to FDA commissioner.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

September 12, 2023

2 Min Read
dairy food
Thierry Dosogne/Getty Images Plus

Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D- Wisc., and Jim Risch, R- Idaho, are speaking about against what they say is unfair mislabeling of non-dairy products using dairy names. On Tuesday, the two penned an open letter to FDA commissioner FDS commissioner Rober Califf.  In it, they say they have “strong concerns” over new cell-based imitation dairy products coming on the market.

“For decades FDA has allowed non-dairy products to illegally use dairy terms to label their imitation products, most of which are nutritionally inferior to the real dairy foods they purport to emulate,” the letter says. “Public health is now facing a new, additional perpetrator – Cell-based dairy imitation products. These are synthetically created options posing as natural foods, many of which are nutritionally inferior to the dairy products they imitate.”

They go on the say that new developments in food science should advance new and innovative products, not cause “deeper injury to public health.”  At the end, the Senators urged Califf to enforce dairy standards of identity and stop synthetic imitation products form using dairy terms.

The letter was co-signed by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Kirsten Gillibrand, D- N.Y., Tina Smith, D- Minn., Susan Collins, R- Maine, Roger Marshall, R- Kan., and Mike Crapo, R- Idaho.

Unsurprisingly, the National Milk Producers Federation quickly applauded the Senators for their action. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says that now is the time to FDA to act after years of what he considers to be failed enforcement of dairy labeling standards.

“Americans need FDA to do its job to ensure consumers have food labeling that helps them make informed choices about what they feed themselves and their families,” Mulhern says. “Americans need marketplace transparency, integrity, and protection now more than ever, as new products and processes are transforming what consumers find on the grocery shelves at an increasingly rapid rate.”

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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