U.S. Rep. John Joyce has made one of his first initiatives in Congress a renewed push for nondairy, plant-based products, such as almond milk, to drop “milk” from their labels.
Joyce, who took office in January, joined nine other members in sending a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the issue. They encouraged heightened enforcement of regulations about what can be labeled a dairy product.
“The ongoing lack of enforcement of existing dairy-product terms … has undermined consumer confidence, the very purposes of standards of identify for foods,” the letter stated.
Joyce, a Republican from Blair County, Pa., represents the U.S. House of Representatives’ 13th District in Pennsylvania, which is formed from parts or all of 10 counties, including Franklin and Fulton counties.
Joyce said in a news release that nearly 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s dairy farms are in the counties covered by his district.
“In visits to dairy farm after dairy farm, I have heard about the lost revenue that plant-based dairy imitators have taken on our economy, and it is incredibly urgent we continue to monitor the subject,” he said in the release. “Partnering with the FDA to continue to revive Pennsylvania’s dairy industry is one of my top priorities this term.”
Vernon Horst, who has 60 cows on his farm near Chambersburg, Pa., is encouraged that Joyce and others are paying attention to the products’ labeling.
Horst pays attention to what he sees in the dairy aisle at the grocery store.
“As a dairy farmer, it upsets me these nonmilk juices are sitting in the dairy case at grocery stores,” he said.
There are existing regulations about the word “milk” being associated with lactating cows, Horst said.
“It looks now like we might be successful” in enforcing those regulations, he said.
Joyce, a medical doctor, described the mislabeling of milk as creating a public-health issue.
“Consumers should be able to feel confident that they are getting the proper nutritional value from their dairy products, and enforcing these federal regulations is necessary for that to occur,” he said.