Wisconsin state Sen. Howard Marklein (R., Spring Green) proposed legislation to protect consumers from misleading labels on imitation “dairy” products. The move was welcomed by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Assn. (WCMA).
Marklein’s proposals, co-authored by state Reps. Travis Tranel (R., Cuba City) and Loren Oldenburg (R., Viroqua), would ban the labeling of products as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient if the food is not made from the milk of a cow, sheep, goat or other mammals. Tranel is a dairy farmer.
“As more soy- and nut-based products enter the marketplace, it’s critical that consumers understand exactly what they’re buying,” WCMA executive director John Umhoefer said. “While these products can mimic milk, they cannot deliver the same nutritional benefits.”
A recent consumer study, sponsored, in part, by WCMA, found that one-quarter of people believe real milk is present in plant-based foods that mimic cheese. One-third of those studied think plant-based imitations contain protein, even though they have little to no protein. One-quarter think plant-based dairy imitations are lower in calories or fat and have fewer additives, but neither perception is true.
“Consumers deserve clarity as they choose what to eat and how to best feed their families,” Umhoefer said. “We’re grateful for the partnership of lawmakers at the federal and state level who recognize that truth in labeling will help people make well-informed choices.”