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11 September 2019

Members Statement: Food labelling

I rise today to talk about milk—something many in this chamber will have heard me speak on in the past but for a different reason to what I plan to speak on now.

I am standing today to support a campaign that is aiming to reclaim milk and change food labelling laws to restrict the use of the word ‘milk’ to products that come from a mammal. Because that is what milk is: milk is from a mammal. The scientific definition of milk is:

A white fluid secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals for the nourishment of their young, consisting of minute globules of fat suspended in a solution of casein, albumin, milk sugar, and inorganic salts.

Milk does not come from almonds, cashews or pistachios, and it does not come from soybeans or oats.

Now let me be clear. If you want to order an almond latte at your local cafe, that is fine, and I do not have a problem with you making that choice; it is your right. But I do have a problem with plant-based alternatives being labelled as milk because they do not actually use milk as an ingredient. It misleads the consumer into believing these plant-based products have a nutritional equivalency with dairy, when they often have high levels of added sugar and do not have the nutritional benefits of whole milk. A ban on plant-based products using the milk label would bring Australia into line with other countries, including France and Canada. The US Food and Drug Administration recognises that ‘almonds don’t lactate’.

To be very clear, I am not advocating for these products to be banned altogether; people have a right to choose what they believe is right for them. What I am advocating for is alternative product labelling.