ARLINGTON, Va. — With FDA giving little indication of promised action on proper labeling of imitation dairy products, the National Milk Producers Federation asked the agency’s ombudsman to ensure that rules are properly enforced.
“Allowing unlawfully labeled ‘plant-based’ imitation dairy foods to proliferate poses an immediate and growing risk to public health; it is a clear dereliction of the FDA’s duty to enforce federal law and agency regulations,” wrote NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern in the letter, sent to Dr. Laurie Lenkel, ombudsman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “The FDA’s Office of the Ombudsman must intervene to break the bureaucratic logjam that is adversely affecting consumers. Doing so would fit squarely within the Office’s own mission to ensure even-handed application of FDA policy and procedures.”
The FDA ombudsman, based in the agency commissioner’s office, “serves as a neutral and independent resource for members of FDA-regulated industries when they experience problems with the regulatory process,” according to the agency. NMPF is urging the ombudsman’s office to take appropriate action to remedy the FDA’s lax approach to enforcing its own rules on the use of dairy terms on products containing no dairy ingredients, which have proven impacts on public health – a new phase of advocacy brought about by the agency’s regrettable inaction. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations have offered evidence of nutritional deficiencies caused by confusion over the contents of plant-based versus dairy beverages.
NMPF last year released its own road map offering solutions to how public health, product integrity and free speech could be protected through updated regulations. NMPF also supports the DAIRY PRIDE Act, a potential legislative prod for FDA action, and has asked FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn to follow up on the pledge he made nearly one year ago to make fake-dairy labeling a high-priority issue at FDA.
— National Milk Producers Federation