A legislator in Louisiana introduced a bill this week to help dairy farmers by preventing non-dairy alternatives like soy, almond or coconut milk from labeling themselves as milk. With this action, Louisiana becomes the latest state to join the truth in labeling movement.
According to KSLA-TV News, the bill was intended to help the state's dairy industry, which has been steadily dwindling in recent years. As KSLA reported, Louisiana's vanishing dairy farms, which once numbered over 1,000, are now down to less than 100 statewide.
Protecting The Remaining Farmers
The TV station explained that low milk prices have worsened the plight of the few surviving dairy farmers, who are also dealing with dairy milk alternatives chipping away at their market. The proposed labeling measure, designed to restrict false or misleading marketing of dairy substitutes, would be similar to legislation in other states addressing meat lookalikes and other such products.
KSLA quoted Louisiana dairy farmer Kristy Salley, who said "if we don't protect our industry, we won't have an industry to protect."
The Movement Is Growing Nationally
The Washington Post compared the issue to a battle of semantics being waged by politicians, food producers and the public. What's at stake is the matter of how imitation products should be labeled, and who gets to use certain descriptive terms like "milk" or "meat."
Innovation in the food industry has created numerous new products such as reduced-carbohydrate cauliflower rice, dairy-free soy milk and plant-based protein burgers. As these items have become more common, advocates for the beef and dairy industries have stepped up efforts to restrict the marketers of alternative foods from using words that might confuse the buying public. The makers and sellers of plant-based milks and meats, on the other hand, argue that people aren't being deceived, and that the public is buying them because they really want these alternative foods.
The Post went on to list a few of the related legislative actions happening across the country: Thanks to the Paleo diet, non-rice "rices" like cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, beet, butternut squash and chickpea have become more popular. In response, Arkansas passed a law in August protecting rice (and meat) producers.
In addition, Idaho reintroduced legislation this year called "The Dairy Pride Act" to enforce truth in labeling provisions targeting soy, almond, oat, hemp, flax, pea, hazelnut, buckwheat, tiger nut and peanut milk. And in 2018 Missouri passed a law mandating fines or jail time for companies that label plant-based products with meat descriptions such as "ground beef style."
If you're in the process of updating your product labels to keep up with government regulations, a helpful place to begin is viewing our high-quality label printers at Argon Technology's U.S. store or Canada page.