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Nomen Est Omen? On the Legal Identity of Dairy Alternatives in the USA

Luca Leone

With the market for alternatives to dairy products growing considerably for reasons of animal ethics, environmental or health considerations, the need for legal clarity in sales denominations is rising among stakeholders. The US legal context, in this regard, oscillates from the courts’ faith in consumers’ reasonableness to the attempt of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to strengthen the enforcement of the regulated standards of identity. At the core of those divergent viewpoints stand the issues pertaining to the nutritional status or quality of both dairy and plant-based products, together with evolving consumer perceptions and changing dietary behaviours. This contribution looks at these opposing visions, casting light on the modalities through which the US authorities are divergently upholding their own beliefs and regimes of authority vis-à-vis citizens’ attitudes and knowledge in addressing the ‘legal identity’ of dairy and plant-based products.

Luca Leone is a Researcher at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Faculty of Business and Law, Piacenza (Italy). For correspondence: <>.


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