On August 31st a press release titled: “Dairy Farmers Launch “Peel Back the Label” Campaign to Expose Deceptive Front-of-Package Food Labeling, Highlight Need for Responsible Food Marketing” was published in the Washington Post.

“America’s dairy farmers today launched “Peel Back the Label,” a new campaign to highlight this troublesome trend and stress the need for truth and transparency in food marketing.

The campaign comes as almost 70% of consumers say they look to front-of-label claims when making food purchasing decisions, and as food manufacturers increasingly utilize “free from” labels – i.e. ”no high fructose corn syrup” or “GMO free” or “hormone-free”– to play on consumers food safety fears and misconceptions.

Nowhere is this fear-based marketing more rampant than with GMOs. For example:

  • Hunt’s adding a “GMO-free” label to its canned tomatoes, even though there is no such thing as a genetically modified tomato currently on the market.
  • Florida’s Natural adding a Non-GMO Project certification to its orange juice labels, despite the fact there are no commercially-grown, genetically modified oranges.
  • Dannon adding a line of non-GMO yogurt, citing “sustainable agriculture, naturality, and transparency,” but unable to point to any nutritional, environmental, health, or other consumer benefits.
  • TruMoo milk acknowledges GMOs are safe on its website, while at the same time launching an advertising campaign for its milk with the tagline, “No GMOs, No Worries.”
  • Himalania Rock Pink Salt adding a Non-GMO Project certified label, despite the fact that salt – a mineral – could never be GMO in the first place because it has no genes to modify.

“America’s dairy farmers strongly support open, honest and transparent engagement with consumers. The deceptive labels and fear-based marketing increasingly used by some food manufacturers damage consumer trust and jeopardizes the safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years,” said Jim Mulhern, President of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “Consumers have a right to both truth and transparency in food labeling. We launched this campaign to help consumers peel back the label on deceptive food marketing in the name of profits.”

This trend towards deceptive “free from” labels is particularly concerning for the dairy industry. Last year, NMPF and other leading farm organizations publicly raised concerns regarding Dannon’s announcement of its plans to eliminate GMOs from its products – saying the company’s decision was “the exact opposite of the sustainable agriculture that you claim to be seeking.”

Through the Peel Back the Label website, the campaign will give consumers access to the tools they need to separate hype from fact as they work to make informed food decisions for their families. It also will include ways for consumers to tell their own stories about the negative impacts of deceptive labeling, and share information with their social networks.” To read their full statement visit the Washington Post here.

The Peel Back The Label Campaign then went on to further criticize Dannon for labeling their product as “GMO-Free” on Twitter.

Regeneration Vermont’s Take: 

While we are trying to peel back the veil on their abusive and polluting practices, they are pretending that since many products have labels claiming that the product is non-GMO when, for example, the product is salt or tomatoes even though salt doesn’t have genes and no tomatoes are currently genetically modified. Building on these obvious truths, they then build an entire campaign based on false advertising, and when they peel back the false label you see the real truth that industrial milk is pure, wholesome, and an essential food. Which is false advertising! The fact is that 90% of the cows’ feed is GMO corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed or their byproducts. If milk is not a product of genetic engineering, then nothing is.