U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has responded to a recent recall of melamine-tainted milk from China by urging her peers to pass country-of-origin labeling (COOL) legislation (S.B. 1783) for all dairy products sold in the United States. Introduced by Al Franken (D-Minn.) as the Dairy COOL Act of 2009, the bill would extend current labeling requirements for nuts, fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood to milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and butter. “We must do more to protect consumers and provide a competitive edge to New York dairy farmers,” Gillibrand said in a March 3, 2010, press release. “All consumers have the right to know whether the milk, yogurt and cheese that we buy are made in Upstate New York or China.” See Dairy Reporter.com, March 4, 2010.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) in 2009 registered opposition to the proposal, which is still under consideration by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “Imposing additional labeling mandates on dairy products, which are not imposed on other processed foods, will reduce demand for dairy products and encourage food manufacturers to substitute vegetable-based or other protein ingredients instead of dairy ingredients,” said one IDFA spokesperson. See IDFA Labeling & Standards Statement, October 19, 2009.