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In The News: Milk-onims

milk_pintApparently, someone at the National Milk Producers Federation recently had some spare time on their hands — along with a hefty dose of misdirected anger — to bang out this exhausting exhaustive petition about “imitation products that milk dairy terms”.

As NMPF CEO and president Jerry Kozak explains,

“The [Food and Drug Administration] has allowed the meaning of ‘milk’ to be watered down to the point where many products that use the term have never seen the inside of a barn.  You don’t got milk if it comes from a hemp plant, you can’t say cheese if it’s made from rice, and faux yogurt can’t be made from soy and still be called yogurt.”

Grammar issues aside (“you don’t got”?), I’m not so sure about using the inside of a dairy barn as a utopian benchmark.  Most dairy cattle subsist on unhealthy diets of corn, growth hormones, and antibiotics, and spend most of their lives standing in one spot. I don’t think a hemp plant would be eager to pull a “Freaky Friday” with your average US dairy cattle.

What absolutely confuses me about this petition is that dairy alternatives are already adequately described as “(name of food here) milk.”

The term “milk” in the context of these alternatives makes sense to me. After all, these products are meant to replicate and replace milk in a multitude of ways (in smoothies, over cereal, in coffee, etc).

Kozak and his ilk claim this petition is done in an effort to “prevent false and misleading labeling on consumer products,” but I have yet to know of anyone who accidentally bought soy milk or rice milk thinking they were buying dairy-based milk.

I have seen the term “mylk” thrown around to describe dairy alternatives, which I find to be kind of adorable in that cute counter-culture kind of way.

Do you find this petition as absurd as I do, or do you consider Mr. Kozak’s claims valid?

UPDATE (May 3): Thank you to Small Bites reader Derek for pointing out that the odd grammar I pointed out in Mr. Kozak’s statement is in reference to the multi-million dollar “Got Milk?” campaign!

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5 Comments

  1. Marianne said on May 2nd, 2010

    To some extent (very small extent) I can see where they are coming from, but like you said, I don’t think anyone would buy hemp or almond milk thinking it was dairy milk. It’s pretty obvious you are buying a different product, not to mention they are located in different areas of the grocery store. I would say it’s an overreaction. And wouldn’t want to see “mylk” as an option – I hate spellings like that! LOL.

  2. Rachelle said on May 2nd, 2010

    Interesting. When I started reading this, I thought the petition was going to be against adulterations of cow’s milk (added vitamins & minerals, cocoa, sugar, antibiotics, etc.). The FDA allowed standards to slip in that sense for sure. I don’t really care if “soy milk” becomes “soy beverage” or “soy mylk” or something else, as long as I can still find it on the shelf.

  3. Derek said on May 3rd, 2010

    I agree. As a dietitian, I’ve never heard any of my clients or anyone I’ve spoken with express concern or confusion regarding the technical labeling of milk. I’d have to agree that a more nutritionally concerning issue is that of the adulteration of milk to create drinks like “strawberry milk”, etc.

    As for the grammatical issues, I think it was an attempt, albeit poor, to make a play on the “Got Milk?” campaign. Maybe? No?

  4. Andy Bellatti said on May 3rd, 2010

    Derek,

    Of course — it IS a reference to the “got milk?” campaign! Thanks for pointing that out.

    You and Rachelle bring up a great angle into this…. that the concern appears to be with “imitation” milks (basically non-dairy alternatives) and not with dairy-based alterations like “chocolate milk”.

  5. OzPolly said on May 23rd, 2010

    The milk of magnesia people had better start looking over their shoulders…also milk of lime etc, used in manufacturing to describe the milky appearance of the liquids.

    Personally, I’d rather see, Milk OF Almond, Milk OF Rice, etc than Almond Milk and Rice Milk. With Almond Milk, I have an expectation of milk with almond and so on. With ‘milk of’, no confusion. An extraction or precipitation of whatever that creates a ‘milky’ solution.

    Cheers,
    Polly

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