Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), and John Joyce (R-PA) spearheaded a Feb. 18 letter urging new FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to quickly finish the job begun by his predecessor, Scott Gottlieb, in 2018 and finally begin to enforce standards of identity defining what may be labeled a dairy product. The letter garnered 58 bipartisan co-signers.
“The deception caused by mislabeling of imitation products is both unfair to our hardworking dairy farmers and problematic for consumers, making it harder for Americans to make educated decisions about what they feed themselves and their families,” wrote the lawmakers in the bipartisan letter.
Citing public health concerns expressed by medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the members of Congress said they appreciated that Hahn saw the topic of fake dairy labeling as “a public health and nutrition matter” while calling action on it “long overdue.”
Many of the letter-signers are also co-sponsoring the DAIRY PRIDE Act, introduced by Representatives Welch and Simpson in the House and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) in the Senate, and many also serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which retains jurisdiction over this issue.
The DAIRY PRIDE Act would designate foods that make an inaccurate claim about milk contents as “misbranded” and require FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days of its enactment.
During his confirmation process, Hahn voiced his support for “clear, transparent, and understandable labeling for the American people.” Given the agency’s inability to follow up on earlier pledges to act, NMPF supports DAIRY PRIDE’s passage. The strong bipartisan showing on the new letter will add momentum to this effort.