FDA requested to relabel plant-based ‘milk’

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

NMPF voiced that plant-based items are taking advantage of traditional dairy products.
NMPF voiced that plant-based items are taking advantage of traditional dairy products.

Related tags: Milk

US lawmakers and congressmen have urged the FDA last week in a letter to relabel plant-based products, as they believe that the use of the term “milk” by manufacturers is “misleading to consumers, harmful to the dairy industry, and a violation of milk’s standards of identity.”

The letter was written by US representatives, Peter Welch, of Vermont, and Mike Simpson, of Idaho, and it was cosigned by 32 members of the US Congress. In the letter, lawmakers requested the FDA to investigate and take “appropriate action”​ against the manufacturers of such products.

The request has drawn support from the dairy industry, including the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

The letter stated that milk prices have plunged 40% since 2014, which caused dairy farmers to face “a serious financial crisis.” ​Meanwhile, there has been tremendous growth in the sale of plant-based products.

“A recent Neilson survey revealed that in the past five years, sales of certain plant-based grew 250% to more than $894.6m. By contrast, sales of milk fell 7% in 2015.”

The ‘milk’ name is illegal for plant-based products

“Milk has a clear standard of identity defined as ‘the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows (21 CFR 131.110)’,”​ the letter said.

It also argued that plant-based products fail to make up the nutritional value of dairy milk.

“When consumers purchase and drink a plant-based beverage labeled as ‘milk,’ they assume they are getting the same nutrients as real milk, when they simply aren’t,”​ vice president of food and nutrition at NMPF, Beth Briczinski, told DairyReporter.

“Secondly, all the hard work the dairy industry has done to create this ‘dairy halo’ – that dairy products are nutritious and safe – is being taken advantage of by these plant-based imposters,”​ she added.

DairyReporter has reached out to plant-based products manufacturers, including WhiteWave Foods, Califia Farms, and MALK, for comment.

NMPF said it will continue to hold the FDA accountable in making sure they enforce the labeling laws already in practice.

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1 comment

Make sure dairyreporter doesn't use the term milk in a wrong way

Posted by Walter,

Often I can read of plant-based "milk" in dairyreporter. I would expect that a news portal specialised on dairy uses the terms correctly according to Codex Alimentarius. The term "milk" is only allowed for cow's milk, and for other animal milk combined with the species of the animal.

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