Calls for Virginia Governor to reject “unconstitutional” dairy labelling bill

The Plant Based Food Association has called on the Governor of Virginia to reject a bill on dairy product labelling.

HB 119, would stop milk alternatives from using the term “milk.”

The PBFA says this “unfairly and unconstitutionally limits the ability of plant-based food companies to truthfully and accurately label their foods.”

In a letter to Governor Northman they said:

“Our member companies selling alternatives already use qualifiers such as “non-dairy”, “dairy-free”, “plant-based”, and/or “vegan” to make their labels clear to consumers.
“In addition, PBFA has established industry guidance for the labeling of plant-based milks and other dairy alternatives.
“These include recommendations that labels clearly identify the main ingredient as part of the word “milk” or be labeled as a “plant-based milk,” along with an easy to read disclosure of the main ingredient.
“HB 119 will confound shoppers and retailers. Plant based milk alternatives have been on store shelves for decades. Consumers are not confused about what they are buying, and many are choosing these products for a variety of reasons.
“If enacted into law, HB 119 would have the effect of setting Virginia apart from the rest of the United States when it comes to how these products are presented to consumers while placing Virginia grocers at a disadvantage.”
“HB 119 raises legal issues. Our members are in full compliance with current FDA requirements. Therefore, attempts to impose new restrictions such as these run afoul of First Amendment protections allowing companies to label their foods with clear, non-misleading terms. Because the First Amendment prevents the government from restricting the free flow information to consumers except in extremely narrow circumstances, laws such as proposed in HB 119 are unlikely to withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

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