Goodbye, almond milk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb last week said the agency plans to crack down on companies who label their plant-based products with terms like “milk” and “yogurt.”
“An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess,” Gottlieb said at the Politico Pro Summit, referring to the fact that the FDA’s standards for milk reference products from lactating animals and not those derived from plant-based alternatives like almonds.
He said the FDA will issue a guidance document outlining changes to its standards of identity policies for marketing milk, according to news reports from the summit last week.
The dairy industry applauded Gottlieb’s commitment to revise the labeling standards, which they had implored the agency to do last fall. “After years of inaction in response to our complaints about these labeling violations, Dr. Gottlieb’s announcement that the agency is intending to act on this issue is very encouraging,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “The marketing of non-dairy imitators must comply with federal standards of identity, and consumers should not be misled that these products have the same nutrition as real milk, yogurt, cheese and other actual dairy products.”
The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) last week launched an initiative to reclaim the word “milk” on food labels. The “Protecting Milk Integrity Initiative” was rolled out ahead of the FDA’s scheduled public hearing on nutrition and labeling scheduled for July 26. The hearing will include a discussion about whether companies that produce non-dairy beverages from almonds or soy products can call them “milk” products.