Oat, soy and almond drinks can still be called 'milk', the FDA says | Totally Vegan Buzz

Oat, soy and almond drinks can still be called ‘milk’, the FDA says

1 In 3 Brits now drink plant-based milk
Image: SariMe / Shutterstock.com

“[The] draft guidance was developed to help address the significant increase in plant-based milk alternatives that we have seen become available in the marketplace over the past decade.”

FDA draft regulations have allowed drinks such as soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, and others to keep using the term “milk.”

The officials issued guidance that said plant-based beverages are not misleading since they don’t pretend to be from dairy animals – and that U.S. consumers aren’t confused by the difference.

It comes at a time when dairy lobbyists are continuing to push the FDA to crack down on drinks and other products that they claim misrepresent animal-based foods and obscure the real meaning of “milk.”

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said: “[The] draft guidance was developed to help address the significant increase in plant-based milk alternatives that we have seen become available in the marketplace over the past decade.

“The draft recommendations issued should lead to providing consumers with clear labelling to give them the information they need to make informed nutrition and purchasing decisions on the products they buy for themselves and their families.”

The draft rules do not apply to non-dairy products other than beverages, such as yoghurt.

FDA guidelines

According to the draft, beverage makers should label their products with the plant source, such as “soy milk” or “cashew milk.”

It also calls for voluntary additional nutrition labels that indicate when drinks have lower levels of nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, or vitamin D, than dairy milk.

Meanwhile, plant-based drinks with higher levels will continue to be labelled accordingly. 

Reactions

The National Milk Producers Federation praised the FDA’s call for more nutrition information on drink labels but disagreed with its conclusion that plant-based beverages can be called milk because it’s a “common and usual name.”

Meanwhile, the Good Food Institute objected to the extra labelling. In a statement, the group that promotes plant-based products, said the FDA’s  “guidance misguidedly admonishes ethical companies to make a direct comparison” with cow’s milk, even though key nutrients are already required to be listed.

The non-dairy market has soared in the last few years as more and more customers choose to avoid meat and dairy for health, and environmental reasons.

In the US, while almond milk is the most popular variety, oat milk has seen the fastest growth. In contrast, milk demand has been declining for decades. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans on average drink nearly half as much milk as they did in 1970.

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