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Lawmaker: ‘Almonds do not lactate’

After the cows are milked at Jim Boyle Dairy in Mesa, the cows head to the feeding line. (Photo by Erica Apodaca/Cronkite News)

After the cows are milked at Jim Boyle Dairy in Mesa, the cows head to the feeding line. (Photo by Erica Apodaca/Cronkite News)

State lawmakers voted Wednesday to prohibit the sale of “almond milk” in Arizona for the simple reason that almonds don’t lactate.

Consumers could still buy that product. But under the terms of HB 2604 it would have to be labeled as “fake milk” or “alternative milk.” And there would have to be a “prominent statement” on the package that the product is made from plants, grown in a laboratory or other similar disclosure.

The legislation also imposes a similar restriction on the word “meat,” saying that word could be used only if what is in the package came from what had once been a living, breathing animal.

But Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, insisted it would not stop people from selling “veggie burgers,” as that would be clear to any buyer that what is and is not in them. Instead, he said it is aimed at efforts to create animal cells in a laboratory that, once they prove commercially viable, could be marketed to consumers.

Cook, who is a rancher, made no secret of his desire to protect his industry against those who would seek to replace something from a steer with something from a test tube. He said ranchers have done a great job of promoting beef as what’s for dinner.

“I believe these people want to tie themselves to our products that have been rigorously tested through the Food and Drug Administration and say that they’re safe and something that they’re not,” he told colleagues. He called HB 2604, mirrored after what has been enacted in some other states, a preemptive strike ahead of these products winding up on store shelves or refrigerator cases.

But he said the bottom line for both the meat and dairy sections of the legislation is simple.

“I believe that words matter,” Cook said.

“All I’m saying is when you walk up and use simple words like ‘milk,’ we should know what that’s from,” he explained. “Almonds do not lactate.”

Rep. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, suggested that Cook was being too literal.

“Have you ever heard of coconut milk?” she asked.

“It could be coconut beverage,” he responded.

Engle wondered out loud exactly how far down the linguistic rabbit hole this was going to go. Consider peanut butter.

“Is that a misleading label?” she asked.

“Butter comes from cows, but this is peanuts?” Engel continued. “That would seem to violate this law.”

But her concerns went deeper, questioning how far a state can go in telling businesses what they can and cannot say on labels.

Cook was undeterred, saying that Arizona has a legitimate governmental interest in ensuring that its residents know what they are buying.

“It’s about consumer safety and knowing what you are consuming and your children are consuming, your grandparents are consuming,” he said.

The measure, which gained preliminary approval, still needs a roll-call vote before going to the Senate.

8 comments

  1. They must think the citizens of Arizona are incredibly stupid.

  2. This maybe the dumbest thing I have ever heard.Does this person thing we are all so stupid we don’t know where peanut butter comes from?

  3. They can call it almond piss and I’ll still drink it instead of cows milk #ditchdairy #notmilk #almondmilklife #gotalmondmilk #goveg

  4. First tackle the outrageous 32 dollar cost for each vehicle added to registeration!
    This is grossly unfair!

  5. Labels across Arizona change to read “Nut Juice” and another decency bill quickly gets pushed through the legislature.

  6. For god sake do these fools have nothing better to do. With all the problems facing the state are we going to worry about what is on a label. If the education systems actual taught grammar the average person might know the difference. But no this fool (Cook) is not worried about education he worried about labels.

    AND yes I consider my self a Republican

  7. In a recent AZ Capitol Times article, it was stated that a bill funding special education wasn’t heard because the legislature had to many other priorities. Guess this was one of them. What do you say when “pathetic” is too mild a word?

  8. If the name “milk,” didn’t have market value, why won’t the almond and other substitute makers let go of it?

    Dairy producers work hard and put up vast amounts of money to produce a healthful product.

    Other producers should not be free loading on those investments.

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