Dairy Lobby Tries to Ban Soy ‘Milk’

Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lfl/2132323232/">BlueWaikiki</a> via Creative Commons

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


With soy milk sales soaring, the dairy lobby wants to stay top cow. Today, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) petitioned the FDA to ban words like “milk” and “cheese” from any products that aren’t made from dairy milk. Now, both the soybean lobby and dairy lobby are powerful presences on the Hill, as the fracas over last year’s climate bill showed. But this goes to a whole new level of ridiculous.

Firstly, even though NMPF president Jerry Kozak said that “…many products that use the term [milk] have never seen the inside of a barn,” he could have just as well have been talking about the NMPF’s own products. Most of the milk produced in this country doesn’t come from a bucolic barn: it comes from factory farms like this one run by Dean Foods, the nation’s largest milk producer, where cows are confined in filth-filled pens and have their tails amputated. If that’s what a “barn” looks like, I’ll take the soy processing plant.

Secondly, the word “milk” has lots of uses and has been used for non-dairy milks like coconut for a long time. Asking the FDA to only allow dairy products to contain the term “milk” is like asking it to make sure only the word “meat” is only used by products with beef in it. Consumers know that Silk soy milk isn’t real dairy milk, just like they realize that Boca Burgers aren’t real hamburger. Instead, the move to ban “milk” from non-dairy products is a transparent ploy by the NMPF to hurt the soybean industry that, thanks to increasingly health-conscious consumers and ethanol production quotas, is growing stronger every year. It’s notable, also, that when not battling soybean farmers the dairy lobby works hard to keep its foot firmly on the throat of its own industry, to the point where they’ve been sued for being a monopoly and trying to drive small dairy farmers out of business: the same farmers whose milk might actually come from barns rather than football-field sized factories.

And thirdly, even though some products, like Coffee-Mate’s powder creamer, are labeled as non-dairy but actually DO contain milk derivatives. So what would be the labeling change there?

Despite this, the NMPF contends that dairy milk is better than soy, remarking in its press release that non-dairy products “can vary wildly in their composition and are inferior to the nutrient profile of those from dairy milk…” Actually, soy milk and dairy aren’t that different nutritionally, except for that milk is fattier. For example, a cup of Trader Joe’s vanilla soy milk has 30 less calories than a cup of 2% milk. A cup of soy milk has 0% of your daily saturated fat, while milk has 15%. Dairy does have twice the protein as soy milk, but soy milk has 10% more calcium. Dairy has 1 gram more sugar, but soy milk has 15% less vitamin D. It’s a bit of a toss-up nutritionally, but I’m lactose-intolerant so I’ll choose the “milk” that doesn’t make me gassy and crampy. I’m not alone: lactose-intolerant immigrants like Asians (90-100%) and Hispanics (50%) are some of the fastest-growing populations in the US, so the NMPF might want to think less about fighting soy and more about how they’re going to deal with people who can’t drink milk to begin with.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate