Last month we learnt that the European Court of Justice ruled that German based food company, Tofu Town, were not following EU guidelines when it came to labelling their products using ‘dairy-style’ names. The company were selling products that included ‘Soyatoo Tofu Butter’ and ‘Veggie Cheese’ but VSW, a German consumer protection group, brought the case before the court after it claimed that TofuTown’s labelling is misleading to consumers.
Now it seems, dairy farmers in the USA are calling upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to impose a similar crackdown, particularly on plant-based milks. The complainants have 32 members of Congress backing them up on the subject siting the FDA’s definition of milk as a ‘lacteal secretion.’
However, this isn’t the first time this issue is being taken to court in the USA. Thankfully, so far, the courts have chosen to side with the plant-based milk industry rejecting the idea that consumers could be misled by the word milk when the packaging also contains the word ‘soy’ or ‘almond’ or whatever the product might actually be made of.
It’s likely that dairy farms are hoping the support of members of Congress might tip the balance in their favour. The Federal government actively encourages the public to drink milk on account of its supposed nutritional benefit as a result of the dairy industry’s multimillion dollar influence.
The dairy industry has been under fire recently, in part due to concerns over the environmental impact of animal agriculture but claims made concerning the need for cow’s milk as part of a healthy diet has also come into question. This has resulted in a huge decline in the net worth of the industry as well as a rise in plant-based alternatives.
Calcium has always been a major selling point of cow’s milk but in addition to this, pro-dairy professionals put forward the argument that cow’s milk is also a healthy source of protein and vitamins specifically vitamin A, D, B2 and B12, all of which are necessary for the ‘proper functioning of our bodies.’
Whilst it may be true that cow’s milk contains all of these things, it also contains over 12mg of cholester
ol, 107mg of sodium and 1.5g of saturated fat per cup. In addition to this milk has certainly been linked to a variety of diseases and health problems.
Due to the high hormone levels in milk, scientists are finding it may effect a human’s chances of contracting breast cancer or prostrate cancer. Futhermore, children who are exposed to cow’s milk at an early age are more at risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Cholesterol and saturated fats have long been linked with heart disease and type 2 diabetes and cow’s milk certainly contains a high percentage of these.
There is also some question over whether the high casein levels in milk actually prevent the absorption of calcium in the body anyway.
Given previous experiences of cases like this in US courts, it seems unlikely that this campaign against plant-based dairy alternatives will result in a win for the dairy industry. However, it is an indication of the impact veganism is having on the dairy industry and it appears it’s beginning to scare them.