October 28, 2018

Labeling of Plant-Based 'Milk' Products

Thirty-Five Day FDA Comment Period Will End 11/27/2018 on the Use of Dairy Food Names in the Labeling of Plant-Based ‘Milk’ Products

Almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk – - you name the fruit, bean or nut and it may be marketed and labeled as a ‘milk’. Milk has a specific definition, origin and regulatory standard established under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act1. And according to a recent survey, the term ‘milk’ is widely recognized by U.S. consumers as a product made from cows milk2. The dairy industry would like for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce the existing standards and regulations to avoid the confusion created by the labeling and marketing of plant-based products with terms associated with traditional dairy foods.

Alternative plant-based ‘milk’ products may claim nutritional attributes that meet or exceed those of traditional dairy milk. Although these products do serve a segment of the consuming public who have been diagnosed with dairy milk product allergies, there are worries that the nutritional value and claims of these products have not been thoroughly examined4.

In response to growing pressure by the U.S. dairy industry, Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced in late July the administration’s intent to “...review, modernize, and bring clarity to the FDA dairy food labeling standards and definitions including milk, cheese and yogurt and their imitation plant-based products” 4, 5. Of particular interest is the review of the nutritional value of plant-based ‘milk’ products as compared to traditional dairy foods and the public health claims and consequences of consuming these milk alternatives. In late September the FDA published in the Federal Register3 a call for comments and information on dairy milk products and their plant-based alternatives. The scientific community is encouraged to submit comments and information helpful to the FDA review. The 35 day public comment period will end 11/27/2018. For more information please see:

1https://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/LawsEnforcedbyFDA/FederalFoodDrugandCosmeticActFDCAct/FDCActChapterIVFood/default.htm

2https://www.feedstuffs.com/news/consumers-not-confused-milk-alternatives

3https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/09/28/2018-21200/use-of-the-names-of-dairy-foods-in-the-labeling-of-plant-based-products#print

4https://www.feedstuffs.com/business/fda-prioritizing-review-modernize-dairy-labeling

5https://www.feedstuffs.com/news/fda-asks-input-plant-based-dairy-product-labels