Letter to the Editor: Dairy Group Backs Proposals to Own Words ‘Milk’ and ‘Cheese’

Our dairy farmers across the state applaud the efforts of Sen. Marklein and Reps. Tranel and Oldenburg to create a clear distinction between real dairy foods and plant-based imitations.

The results of a recent national survey about imitation cheese confirm the customer confusion:

• About one-quarter of customers mistakenly think plant-based products that mimic cheese contain milk.

• About one-third of customers think plant-based imitation cheese contains protein, and 21 percent think that it is of a higher quality than dairy, even though the imitations have little to no protein. Real dairy cheese has seven grams of protein.

• About one-quarter of customers purchase plant-based foods that mimic cheese because they believe them to be low in calories and fat and without additives. In reality, these plant-based foods contain an equal or comparable amount of fat and calories and substantially more additives than dairy cheeses. 

Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association 

Waterloo, Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Legislation proposed last week by three legislators – Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Reps. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Loren Oldenburg (R-Viroqua) – would ban the labeling of plant-based products as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient if the food is not made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats or other mammals. They claim the plant-based food industry masquerades its products as real dairy foods, which they say confuses customers who often make judgments about a food’s nutritional value based on its name.