‘Milk’ not the only contested word in the food world

SHARE ‘Milk’ not the only contested word in the food world

This Feb. 4, 2015, file photo, shows Hampton Creek Foods bottles of Just Mayo flavors at their office in San Francisco. | AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

Even government agencies can’t always agree on whether “soy milk” is an appropriate term.

The dairy industry wants terms like soy, almond and rice milk to vanish from supermarket shelves because it says federal regulations define “milk” as derived from cows. But emails released in response to a lawsuit show the U.S. Department of Agriculture wanted to use “soy milk” in consumer education materials in 2011. That’s even though the Food and Drug Administration warned that doing so would undermine its regulatory authority.

It’s not the only disagreement around language in the food industry. Here are some other examples.


Hellmann’s mayonnaise maker Unilever, sued the maker of a vegan spread called Just Mayo, saying that mayonnaise is defined as having eggs under federal regulations. That lawsuit was dropped. Later, however, the maker of Just Mayo worked out an agreement with the FDA to keep its name, so long as it made some changes to its label to make clear the product does not contain eggs.


In 2002, the FDA sent a warning letter to the maker of Kraft Singles, which the agency noted contained an ingredient that was not listed in the definition for “pasteurized process cheese food.” Kraft now labels the Singles as a “pasteurized prepared cheese product.”


In 2011, “The Colbert Show” star Stephen Colbert called out DiGiorno’s new frozen meals with pizza and boneless “wyngz.” The comedian cited a page on the USDA’s website that said the odd spelling could be used for a product that is “in the shape of a wing or a bite-size appetizer type product,” but not made entirely from wing meat.

“No other misspellings are permitted,” the page says.

Associated Press

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