ARLINGTON, Va. – In a letter today to Hamdi Ulukaya, chief executive officer of Chobani, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) President and CEO Jim Mulhern thanked the company for supporting transparency in the use of dairy terms on food-product labels, the subject of a recently ended FDA comment period.
“As you state in your company’s comments, ‘The improper – and illegal – use of dairy terms on plant-based alternatives poses a public health risk, in that this terminology may confuse consumers and cause them to displace the nutrients that would otherwise be provided by dairy foods,’” Mulhern wrote on behalf of NMPF. “We at National Milk share your concerns that consumers are being misled over the nutritional content of dairy versus plant-based products, and we appreciate your willingness, as the No. 1 seller of Greek yogurt in the U.S. and the nation’s second-largest yogurt manufacturer, to use your voice to speak out on this issue.”
Mulhern also noted that Chobani follows FDA rules and eschews the use of dairy terms on its non-dairy products, a contrast with competitors that flout proper practices to the detriment of consumers. “We will always strongly advocate for dairy as the superior consumer choice, but we have no objection to the presence of properly labeled plant-based imitators,” Mulhern wrote. “As Chobani is showing, such products can compete on their own merits without misappropriating dairy terms. We wish your example would be emulated by your competitors, including Danone North America, that currently peddle mislabeled products.”