Plant-based imitations of butter and other dairy products pose an increasing challenge for consumer understanding in the butter sector, which is dealing with proliferating imposters even as butter’s popularity grows. That makes it crucial for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop vegan shenanigans before fake products make federal standards of identity for established terms such as “butter” and “margarine” meaningless, said Tom Balmer, executive director of the American Butter Institute.
“Just because consumers are rejecting plant-based margarines and spreads, companies can’t turn around and violate federal law by slapping the term ‘butter’ on a product label and pretend it’s worthy of a dairy term,” Balmer said. “A falsely labeled product is a misbranded product, and misbranded products don’t belong on grocery shelves. The proliferation of these products is eroding the integrity of the marketplace, and the FDA needs to stop it before its own rules become meaningless.”
The American Butter Institute filed a lengthy complaint to the FDA in September calling out imitators. It also supports the National Milk Producers Federation’s citizen petition with the agency filed in February, outlining a roadmap toward a constructive resolution of the problem of mislabeled, fake dairy products. That petition may be accessed.