Status (4/13/21): The bills all failed to pass the Wisconsin Senate on April 1, 2020.
Today, PBFA lobbyist Dan Colegrove testified before the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions in response to Senate Bills 463, 464, and 466. These bills would limit plant-based food companies’ rights to use meat and dairy terms.
The following are excerpts from Dan’s testimony:
“PBFA believes that these bills are a solutions in search of a problem. Our member companies already use qualifying terms on their product labels, such as “non-dairy” or “plant based” to make things clear to consumers. The labels are also in full compliance with current us FDA regulations by using what are known as “common and usual” names.
PBFA has established industry guidance for the labeling of plant-based milk and dairy alternatives. That means labels must clearly identify the main ingredient next to the word “milk” or be labeled as a “plant-based milk” along with easy to read ingredient panels. We are finalizing similar guidance for plant-based meat alternatives.
The bills before you would set Wisconsin apart from the rest of the United States when it comes to how they are presented to shoppers. They would create costly new regulatory systems requiring differing Wisconsin-based labels. They are ambiguously drafted, raising questions about what might or might not be prohibited and forcing state regulators to make decisions impacting manufacturers, grocers and consumers.
Plant-based foods have been in the marketplace for more than 30 year using terms that are clearly understood. We believe that there is room on grocery shelves for everyone and that governments should not be in a position of choosing winners and losers.”
Not only are many of our members’ foods sold in Wisconsin, but PBFA member Puris’ main pea production facility is located in Wisconsin. In response to these recent bills, Puris submitted a letter to Senator Janet Bewely.
PBFA has fought labeling bills such as these in almost 30 states and recently secured a major victory for plant-based meat producers after we sued Mississippi. We hope that Wisconsin legislators will ultimately side in favor of the consumer and free market.
Many thanks to Dan, along with the local lobbying firm that assisted him, for their important work on behalf of our members. We will share updates as these we have them.