Senator: Soy milk, coconut milk is ‘misrepresenting’

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – One lawmaker wants you to stop calling it “milk.” Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, is sponsoring a bill that targets products like soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk.

He believes these products are misrepresenting milk, which he says comes only from a lactating mammal. His bill would regulate the labeling of these “milk” products.

He says the choices in the milk aisle at the grocery store are overwhelming, and that these faux milk products do not have the same nutrients as true milk. For that reason, he wants to end what he calls “mislabeling.”

“Milk has a great reputation as being a healthy, nutritious beverage and so there’s other companies that are piggy backing on that reputation,” he said.

His bill says these products could still use the word “milk” in their name, but they would be required to also include the word “imitation.”

The bill is currently sitting in a Senate committee with a tie vote, meaning it won’t go anywhere unless Sen. Pirtle can sway a member in the other direction. Or, if the committee member who was absent that day later votes in favor of the bill.

During the committee hearing, which took place on Feb. 7, an opponent argued the bill is equatable to asking the peanut butter industry to ditch the word “butter.”

Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, also argued during that meeting that the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of milk is not only lactation from a cow, but the latex of a plant and coconut juice.

A congressional senator from Wisconsin is looking to pass a similar bill on the federal level, except her bill targets milk, along with cheese and yogurt.

A petition has been filed in opposition to that bill. It currently has more than 45,000 signatures and calls the idea “unconstitutional” and “anti-competitive.” It says people are not being duped when they buy soy, almond or coconut milk.

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