Dairy industry wants crackdown on non-dairy drinks called "milk"

FRESNO, Calif.

The popularity of soy, almond, rice, coconut and even hemp milk has grown immensely in the last decade.

At Kristina's Natural Ranch Market in northeast Fresno you can find some products alongside real milk in the dairy section.

The National Milk Producers Federation wants the Food and Drug Administration to prevent companies from calling non-dairy products "milk."

Third-generation dairyman Dino Giacomazzi of Hanford believes it to be a fair request. Giacomazzi said, "I mean, milk comes from mammals. But I guess calling it something more like processed soy sludge would be more appropriate than calling it soy milk."

The soy industry maintains consumers aren't confusing soy milk with real milk.

Mickey Paggi heads the Center for Agricultural Business at Fresno State. Paggi said, "Most people that are buying that product know what they're buying."

Paggi said he understands the frustration the dairy industry has with the soy, rice and almond drinks. But adds it is a compliment companies want to associate the nutritional value of milk with their product.

Paggi said, "They truly want FDA to make a decision that milk has a technical meaning. It's not a marketing meaning."

Some products don't use the term "milk." Almond Breeze markets itself as an organic almond non-dairy beverage.

We asked the Soyfoods Association of North America for a comment on our story but did not receive one.

The dairy industry first petitioned the FDA a decade ago. The Milk Producers Federation issued its second petition in ten years because it says the practice has gotten worse.

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