NMPF releases fake milk “Naughty or Nice List” for the holidays
ARLINGTON, Va. — With the holidays fast approaching, the National Milk Producers Federation released its own version of Santa’s “Naughty or Nice” list focused on good and bad actors in the labeling of fake dairy products.
On the “naughty” side: beverage brands that use the word “milk” to sell nutritionally inferior non-dairy products. These include Almond Breeze, Oatly, Great Value (Walmart), Simply Balanced (Target), Muscle Milk, and So Delicious.
And on the “nice” side: brands that lead with truthful food labeling by avoiding the term “milk” and offering an accurate description of what their products are — non-dairy beverages. Trader Joe’s, Quaker, Pacific Foods, and Kirkland (Costco) are on this list.
NMPF’s “Naughty or Nice” list comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to solicit public comment through Jan. 28 on the proper names for plant-based beverages.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already has a clear definition of what constitutes milk: “Food products made exclusively or principally from the lacteal secretion obtained from one or more healthy milk-producing animals.” Plant-based beverages don’t meet that standard. NMPF is calling on the FDA to enforce its own rules and end deceptive labeling of fake dairy products.
“Certain brands already use truthful and transparent labels and don’t improperly borrow dairy terms to describe their products. Unfortunately, far too many brands market their nutritionally inferior products under the health halo of real dairy milk,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “It’s time for the FDA to enforce milk-labeling laws already on the books.”
Consumer data illustrate just how many consumers are being misled by imitation dairy products. A survey by IPSOS, commissioned by Dairy Management Inc., found that:
• 73 percent of consumers believed almond-based drinks had as much or more protein per serving than milk. Milk has eight times as much protein;
• 53 percent said they believed that plant-based food manufacturers labeled their products as milk because their nutritional value is similar. That’s not the case; and
• Misinformation was more prevalent among those who only bought plant-based drinks. Of those buyers, 68 percent strongly or somewhat argued those drinks have the same nutritional content as dairy milk. In reality, those beverages do not.
Check out the full “Naughty or Nice” list below:
• Almond Breeze is the best-selling almond “milk” brand and prominently features the descriptor “milk” on its package, even though it doesn’t contain any milk from a cow.
• The Swedish oat beverage Oatly has two different packages: one without the term “milk” to satisfy labeling regulations abroad and another that uses misleading labeling in the United States.
• Walmart is the largest U.S. grocer, exposing a tremendous number of Americans to misleading labeling every day.
• Target’s Simply Balanced brand also reaches a large number of consumers with its misleading labels.
• Muscle Milk has one of the most recognizable labels of all the dairy imitators. It has a laundry list of ingredients, but not an ounce of milk in it.
• Coconuts can’t lactate. So Delicious shouldn’t peddle their product as “milk.”
• Trader Joe’s sells a variety of plant-based beverages with accurate labels, a stark contrast to Almond Breeze.
• Quaker Oats calls its oat product a beverage.
• Pacific is a good example of a smaller company that uses truthful and transparent labeling.
• Costco, through their Kirkland brand, does not use the term “milk” to describe its almond beverage. ❖