The National Milk Producers Federation has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), calling on the agency to “significantly increase enforcement efforts to prevent the misbranding of certain food items that are imitations of standardized dairy products.”

The federation claims that soy-, hemp-, almond-, and rice-based products are marketed to consumers as “milk,” “cheese,” “ice cream,” and “yogurt,” but “do not meet the legal standard of identity for those standardized dairy products.” The petition cites several FDA warning letters sent to producers of products advertised as milk or cheese but not containing any “milk,” defined by federal law as the “lacteal secretion, practically free of colostrums, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.”

The federation contends that FDA’s lack of enforcement has resulted in the “traditional retail dairy case” becoming “a chaotic center of misbranded products and false and misleading labeling,” that threatens healthy dietary patterns. According to a federation press release, the petition marks the second time in a decade that the organization has called on FDA to crack down on the practice, which, it contends, has only gotten worse. The federation calls on consumers to send examples of purportedly mislabeled products to FDA or urge the agency to take action. See National Milk Producers Federation Press Release, April 29, 2010.