A senior agency official basically agreed with his criticism, reports Bottemiller Evich. The agency has “too many programs and not enough resources,” FDA senior deputy commissioner Janet Woodcock told him, “and the disconnect is deep.” As for the food division, it is “really important, but it is very underfunded”.
And yet, the FDA apparently found the time to intervene on behalf of the dairy industry to achieve one of its main lobbying goals. “For too long, the FDA has failed to take action to address the nutritional crisis we face in our country,” Booker said, referring to rising levels of diet-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes, attributed to the consumption of lightly regulated ultra-processed foods. food. “Rather than use its regulatory authority to protect consumers, the FDA now appears poised – in a blatant example of regulatory capture after years of pressure from the dairy industry – to take action solely to protect the share conventional milk market. I am deeply concerned about the FDA’s misguided priorities and hope that the Office of Management and Budget will return the proposed guidance to the FDA for reconsideration. The Budget Office declined to comment on its timeline. to comment on the FDA’s proposal.
In a letter to the OMB published May 19, Booke joined Senator Mike Lee of Utah, Representative Julia Brownley of California and Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina in making a similar plea for the OMB crushes any plan to crack down on the labeling of plant milks. They pointed to a 2017 Federal Court decision rejecting the dairy industry’s claim that consumers cannot assess the nutritional differences between dairy and non-dairy products.
To me, Big Dairy’s fixation on hoarding the name “milk” is as confusing as Califf’s decision to make the subject a priority right now. Cow’s milk consumption has been declining for decades, long before the almond milk boom of the early 2010s and the more recent oat milk boom. In 1945, Americans drank an average of 45 gallons of cow’s milk per year per capita, which translates to an impressive 2.3 cups per day. This turned out to be the peak preceding a long, steady downward slope. Today, 77 years later, we only consume 0.57 cups a day, almost half of it in cereal or mixed with other drinks such as coffee.
After decades as a fringe food found primarily in health food stores, dairy-free alternatives have begun to gain popularity in the 21st century and now account for 15% of “all retail milk dollar sales.” , according to the vegan think tank. The Institute of Good Food. Even so, Big Dairy can’t blame the rise of alternatives, even for milk’s recent decline. A 2020 study by USDA researchers found that “the increase in sales of plant-based options between 2013 and 2017 accounts for one-fifth of the decrease in Americans’ purchases of cow’s milk.” He concluded that “sales of plant-based milk alternatives are contributing to the decline in cow’s milk sales, but are not the primary driver.”
Nor is there evidence that America’s shift away from milk as a drink has had any negative nutritional consequences. Dietary intake of calcium, the hallmark nutrient of the product, steadily increased for all age groups between 1994 and 2010, according to a USDA study, even as per capita milk consumption declined. Likewise, cow’s milk offers several times more protein than most of its plant-based competitors; but as we turned away from it, the signs of a protein deficiency in our diet did not develop.
In short, the battle over the names of the substances we rely on to improve coffee and cereals is much like a storm in a cappuccino cup. The FDA has more burning issues to deal with. Like, say, the current infant formula crisis. The same goes for the dairy industry, including the problem of chronic overproduction.