Gottlieb: FDA Will Crack Down on Non-Dairy Products Labeled “Milk”

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The U.S. Foods and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Tuesday during the PoliticoPro Summit that the Trump Administration plans to crack down on the use of the term “milk” on non-dairy milk alternatives. The agency is to release a guidance outlining its new standards.

This can be a real blow to plant-based food producers who have been fighting legislation such as the Dairy Pride Act — a short-hand for the long-winded Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese To Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act — sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). This would have made it against the law for non-dairy products to have “milk” on their labels. Trade groups like the Plant-Based Food Association have argued that the use of the term “milk” is not misbranding because it the common term used by all consumers who understand the difference between dairy and dairy-free products. The bill gained little traction but FDA claims that plant-based alternatives are mislabeled is not new. The big story in 2015 was Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo, which FDA said could not be called “mayo” because it did not contain eggs. The brand eventually reached an agreement with FDA that allowed them to keep the moniker with the caveat that they make egg-free attributes bigger and use the terms “spread and dressing” on their label.

Gottlieb said that FDA will begin taking public comments before finalizing any rules, which he estimates should take about a year.

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