Beware of fake milk, meats

Farmers work hard and long hours to produce the basic ingredients for our food supply. They produce nutritious and quality products for us that make up much of our diets.

Yet they are faced with continuing competition from ingredients that are not as healthy or nutritious.

Take a look at the substitute beverages for milk that are on the market but are advertised as milk.

These beverages often come from some product that is processed into a beverage that is made to look like milk. These might be made from soybeans and are called soy milk, or from oats and called oat milk. Another one that is advertised a lot is almond milk.

There is the problem. They are not milks and are not as nutritious as pure milk that comes from the cow. They may be a wholesome beverage but should not use the name milk.

Companies that do this want to use the good name of milk to sell their products. That way they can increase the use of their beverage and reduce advertising costs.

Then there are the fake meats that are on the market. There are a number of companies that are selling them. They are lab -grown, plant-based products that use the good name of real meat.

So you decide to buy a veggie burger. What might you be getting? Nothing more than a pile of smashed beans perhaps, or whatever some company wants to put together from plant-based or other materials.

If you buy any of these fake meats over the meat counter, how will it be labeled? That is a concern of beef cattle groups and other livestock producers.

One state, Oklahoma, has passed legislation that tackles the problem of labels for these meat alternatives. This legislation, which took effect Nov. 1, will require a company to put on the label in large print that the food is plant based. It is important to tell what a product really is.

Several other states are looking at similar legislation. There is also considerable interest in having the United States Department of Agriculture or Food and Drug Administration address the problem.

Fake meat products are becoming a major food item in some stores. There are at least 15 different companies selling these meatless products in several different forms. These could include veggie burgers, sausages, hot dogs, meat balls and more.

When shopping, it pays to read labels and know what you are buying. If you want the quality, flavor and nutrition of real meat, then make sure that is what you are buying. If a lab-based substitute is satisfactory, then they are available. Just know what you are buying.

Development of these fake products is being done because companies have discovered another way of making a profit. But it can also be very hard on the profit that a hard-working farmer can make.

Over the years, beef cattle producers have worked hard to develop the cuts of meat consumers want. They believe that competition from these fake products using their name is unfair competition.

Most of us would agree with them.

Submitted by John Parker, an independent agricultural writer for Farm Bureau and other organizations.


OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.