Monday, July 26, 2010

The ongoing debate over milk labeling

What does a label provide for a product? Should a label, in some cases, be treated like a brand?

First of all, I should introduce myself since this is the first time I've blogged for the CP. My name is Candice, I'm one of two interns at the Capital Press in Salem this summer. I've been spending most of my time working on the copy desk, laying out pages and editing videos, but I've also been given the opportunity to work on some stories when I have the time.
One of my longer, ongoing projects concerns the debate over soy or protein products like Silk and Muscle Milk — on April 28, 2010, the National Milk Producers Federation filed a complaint with the FDA demanding that it tighten its enforcement policies on labeling because they don't think that soy, almond and rice milk should be labeled as milk (it's someone else's job to figure out what they should be called).
In an ongoing battle against these products for the last decade, the NMPF claims that producers of soy products that masquerade as milk are getting to ride on the coattails of the positive associations that Americans have when they think of the word "milk." In their complaint, the NMPF also alleges that these products don't share the same health benefits as milk, and have no business being labeled the same way.
Through my research, I've found many examples of similar labeling woes in the ag world across the last few decades. Obviously, marketing and labeling can be vital to the success of a product, but this issue seems to be something on which the nation is very divided.
In trying to figure out how split the issue is, I've recently made a poll on that asks participants whether they think it's OK for soy (and others — coconut, almond, rice, etc.) products to label themselves as milk. I'll post the poll here. Please vote, and post comments if you have any ideas or tips for the article.

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