Congressman wants FDA to take action against ’fake milk’
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By LISA RATHKE
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Got milk? Vermont’s sole congressman says if it’s from soybeans, almond or rice, it should not be labeled as milk.
Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, Republican Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson and 23 other members of Congress signed a letter asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate and take action against manufacturers of what they say is “fake milk.”
They want the FDA to require plant-based products to adopt a more appropriate name, other than milk, which they say is deceptive.
“We strongly believe that the use of the term ‘milk’ by manufacturers of plant-based products is misleading to consumers, harmful to the dairy industry and a violation of milk’s standard of identity,” the letter states.
Dairy farmers are struggling with “deep cuts in income” following a 40-percent drop in milk prices since 2014. The forecast is for prices to remain low. In recent years, the sale of plant-based products, often labeled as milk, has jumped in recent years, the letter states.
They say milk has a clear standard of identity: “obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows,” among other qualities.
“While consumers are entitled to choose imitation products, it is misleading and illegal for manufacturers of these items to profit from the ‘milk’ name,” the letter states. “These products should be allowed on the market only when accurately labeled.”
The Soyfoods Association of North America said the term “soymilk” has been used on products for over 100 years. It asked the FDA in 1997 to recognize the one-word name “soymilk” but that the FDA has not made a decision on the petition.
The FDA said Friday that it had received the Dec. 16 letter and planned to respond directly to lawmakers.
US allowing work to restart at nuke dump 3 years after leak
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By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Energy Department authorized its contractor Friday to begin disposing of radioactive waste again at the nation’s only underground repository, setting the stage for the first barrel to go below ground since a radiation release forced the facility to shut down nearly three years ago.
Agency officials said the move confirms that numerous corrective actions uncovered during a recent review of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico have been completed.
A team of Energy Department experts from around the nation had found paperwork and documentation issues that needed to be fixed. It also had found inadequate procedures for new requirements on accepting waste from national laboratories and other defense sites.
The federal government called the authorization a major milestone.
“Safety has and will continue to be our number one priority,” Energy Department spokeswoman Bridget Bartol said, noting that workers will complete minor maintenance on the walls and floors of the underground disposal area before waste-handling work resumes.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been closed since February 2014 when a radiation release contaminated a significant portion of the repository, where disposal rooms are carved out of a thick salt formation deep underground.
The shutdown put shipments from around the country on indefinite hold as the federal government poured hundreds of millions of dollars into recovery efforts and policy overhauls.
New Mexico regulators cited the government and the contractor for numerous permit violations related to the radiation release and an unrelated fire involving a mining truck weeks earlier. That resulted in a multimillion-dollar settlement with the state.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, in northern New Mexico, also was cited because the breached container of waste from 2014 had been inappropriately packed there before being shipped to the repository.
Investigators said the incident could have been avoided had managers not ignored existing policies and procedures for handling and treating the waste, which includes gloves, tools, clothing and other materials from decades of bomb-making and research.
The Energy Department released a slew of documents Friday related to reviews of the facility’s readiness to reopen that state and federal officials conducted in recent weeks. State officials gave their approval for work to resume in letters sent to the federal agency late last week.
Some watchdog groups had asked the department not to rush, citing the previous incidents and the importance of the facility to the nation’s multibillion-dollar cleanup of Cold War-era waste.