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Standards of identity and Imitation Milk Labeling

AAEA member releases new research in JAAEA

Less than 7% of respondents associated an imitation label with skim milk without added vitamins. Some vitamins and fats are removed from skim milk in the process of removing milk fat to create the product, and some consumers prefer to purchase food without additives. Requiring skim milk without added vitamins to be labeled as imitation could increase, not decrease, consumer confusion. If the imitation label did not accurately communicate product contents, then the standard of identity is not actually protecting consumers.

In the new article released in the open access Journal of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association, "Standards of identity and Imitation Milk Labeling", Brandon McFadden from the University of Arkansas asks if it is possible that standards of milk labeling can increase consumer confusion instead of reducing it. 

McFadden says, "We need to be more thoughtful about standards of identity. Allowing firms to meet the desires of specific consumer segments while also protecting consumers from misleading claims and marketing campaigns can be a fine line to toe. If the goal of standards of identity is to provide accurate information about product contents to consumers, then research is needed to better understand how labels and claims are perceived by consumers. Too stringent standards of identity can simultaneously harm firms and increase consumer confusion."

If you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes three journals, the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (an open access journal), the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Ware
Senior Communications & Membership Manager
(414) 918-3190