dairy producers

Disappointment in FDA’s Proposal for Plant-Based Milk Alternatives

Brian GermanDairy & Livestock, Dairy and Livestock, Industry, Regulation

Dairy industry groups have expressed concern about the latest proposal for labeling plant-based milk alternatives. A draft guidance was recently issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The document is intended to provide consumers with more information to distinguish the nutritional differences between milk and plant-based alternatives. President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, Jim Mulhern said the guidance is a step in the right direction. However, the document still falls short of fully addressing labeling concerns.

Milk Alternatives

“The decision to permit such beverages to continue inappropriately using dairy terminology violates FDA’s own standards of identity, which clearly define dairy terms as animal-based products,” said Mulhern. “We reject the agency’s circular logic that FDA’s past labeling enforcement inaction now justifies labeling such beverages as “milk” by designating a common and usual name. Past inaction is poor precedent to justify present and future inaction.”

FDA claims that consumers already understand that plant-based milk alternatives are not milk products. As such, the draft guidance is solely focused on nutritional information and not on the use of dairy terms. Mulhern said increasing nutritional transparency is important, but further action is needed to “direct FDA to enforce its own rules and clarify that dairy terms are for true dairy products, not plant-based imposters.” Lawmakers such as U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Jim Risch were also critical of FDA’s draft guidance proposal.

“America’s dairy farmers work hard to produce second-to-none products with the highest nutritional value, and plant-based products should not be getting away with using their good name,” the Senators said in a press release. “Since the FDA is failing to enforce its own definitions for dairy terminology and stop imitation products from deceiving consumers, we will be reintroducing our DAIRY PRIDE Act to stand up for America’s dairy farmers and the quality products they make.”

FDA will be accepting comments on the proposal through April 24. Additional draft guidance will also be developed separately for other plant-based products such as cheese and yogurt.

About the Author

Brian German

Facebook Twitter

Ag News Director, AgNet West