January 31, 2019

Majority of consumers want to nix “milk” from non-dairy beverage labels

Majority of consumers want to nix “milk” from non-dairy beverage labels

A new national survey of 1,005 adults, commissioned by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), shows that 63 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should restrict the use of the term “milk” on non-dairy beverage labels. This view could apply to drinks currently marketed as almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and others.

In contrast, 23 percent of respondents said the FDA should not restrict the use of the term, and 16 percent were uncertain.

The survey comes as the FDA solicits public comments regarding front-of-package dairy labeling. Overall, the administration is examining its approach to regulating the terms “milk,” “cheese” and “yogurt.” The comment period ends Jan. 28.

Restricting the use of the term “milk” to dairy products would not be a new regulation. That rule is on the books but not currently enforced.

“Consumers have spoken, and they are clear in their desire for FDA to enforce its own rules,” NMPF President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulhern told Feedstuffs.

Previous survey data has suggested that consumers are confused by current labeling terms. A survey from market research company IPSOS, taken last August, found that 73 percent of consumers believed that almond “milk” had as much—or more—protein than milk. In reality, real milk has eight times more protein.

As Feedstuffs reports, “In a separate poll from the International Food Information Council Foundation released in October, one-quarter of consumers thought that almond drinks contained cow’s milk or weren’t sure.”

The FDA says it will be looking at next steps in labeling regulations over the next year.