Dairy campaign for clarity
AUSTRALIAN dairy farmers have joined an international push to ban the term “milk” from being used to describe soy, rice, oat, nut and other plant extracts.
“These products are trying to imitate milk when they’re clearly not,” Dairy Connect farmer president Graham Forbes said.
“They should not be marketed using the term ‘milk’.”
Dairy Connect, which has the backing of local processors, met advisers from Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s office last week seeking support.
Meanwhile, farmers in the United States’ largest dairy state, Wisconsin, have backed a similar campaign led by Senator Tammy Baldwin.
Senator Baldwin has drafted the Dairy Pride Act, known in full as Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act, which bans the terms milk, butter and yoghurt from being applied to non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds and plants.
The European Court of Justice recently ruled the term “milk” and other milk product names could not be used to designate a purely plant-based product. In June the court ruled the term “milk” and other milk product names are reserved for “animal products”.
But in Australia soy, almond and other plant extracts are able to exploit a loophole in the nation’s labelling laws.
Australia’s Food Standards Code defines milk as “the mammary secretion of milking animals, obtained from one or more milkings for consumption as a liquid milk or for further processing”.
However, a separate section of the code allows plant products to use the word milk “as long as the context ensures consumers are not misled e.g. coconut milk, soy milk etc”.
Dairy Connect chief executive Shaughn Morgan said the good name, quality and nutritional value of mammalian milks needed to be protected.
A spokeswoman for Mr Joyce said the Government commended those campaigning to raise the profile of Australian dairy products.
She said when consumers buy milk or dairy products they should reasonably expect it to be sourced from cow’s milk unless clearly stated otherwise.