Companies are selling “milk” derived from a wide variety of plants. The dairy industry isn’t happy about it.
Beth Briczinski has been keeping a list of all the things companies are turning into products labeled as a kind of milk. “There’s soy and almond and rice,” she says. “Hemp, pistachio, macadamia nut, sunflower.”
Briczinski is highly annoyed by these products. She’s vice president for dairy foods and nutrition at the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents the original milk producers: dairy farmers.
These other “milk” products, she says, are confusing consumers. She recalls a recent conversation in which one of her friends, who is trained as a food scientist, thought a plant-based product can be called milk “because it has the same nutrients” as milk.
This is exactly what those companies want you to think, Briczinski says. It’s why they label their products “milk” and place them in the dairy aisle at the supermarket. But the products are not the same at all. Some milk-like drinks contain very little protein or calcium.
This week, a group of 32 members of Congress, many of them from big milk-producing states, came to Briczinski’s aid. They wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration, calling on the FDA to order manufacturers of plant-based drinks to find some other name.