The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) applauds State Senator Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, for proposing legislation to protect consumers from misleading labels on imitation “dairy” products.

Marklein’s proposals, co-authored by State Representatives Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, and Loren Oldenburg, R-Viroqua, would ban the labeling of products as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient, if the food is not made from the milk of a cow, sheep, goat or other mammals.

“As more soy and nut-based products enter the marketplace, it’s critical that consumers understand exactly what they’re buying,” said John Umhoefer, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Executive Director. “While these products can mimic milk, they cannot deliver the same nutritional benefits.” 

A recent consumer study, sponsored in part by WCMA, showed that one-quarter of people believe real milk is present in plant-based foods that mimic cheese. One-third of those studied think plant-based mimics contain protein, though imitators have little to no protein. One-quarter think plant-based mimics are lower in calories or fat, and have fewer additives, but neither perception is true.

“Consumers deserve clarity as they choose what to eat and how to best feed their families,” said Umhoefer. “We’re grateful for the partnership of lawmakers at the federal and state level who recognize that truth-in-labeling will help people make well-informed choices.”

Since 1893, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association has served as the voice of cheese and dairy manufacturers, processors, and marketers. Today, WCMA represents more than 675 companies and cooperatives, including dairy processors, manufacturers, and their suppliers operating across the United States and around the world.

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