FDA to Crackdown on Plant-Based Milk

The Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Scott Gottlieb, announced Tuesday that the FDA will be cracking down on non-dairy products sold as “milk,” such as soy and almond milk. The FDA will issue a guidance document in the near future defining changes to its standards of identity policies for marketing milk.

Gottlieb referenced these supposed “standards of identity,” at the POLITICO Pro Summit. “If you look at our standard of identity—there is a reference somewhere in the standard of identity to a lactating animal,” he said. “And, you know, an almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.”

Restricting the use of the term “milk” to only products that contain fluids from lactating animals will be difficult. The agency will seek aid from the public for input on the terminology and aims to release a new policy within a year. “This is going to take time,” Gottlieb said. “It’s not going to take two years, but it probably takes something close to a year to get to go through that process.”

This is not the first time the FDA has been involved in a dairy dispute. The agency was involved in a dispute over a product called Just Mayo, an eggless item that imitated mayonnaise, but could not be labeled as “mayo” since it led people to believe that it was “the standardized food, mayonnaise, which must contain eggs as described under 21 CFR 169.140(c),” the FDA said in a warning letter at the time.

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced a bill in early 2017 that aimed to ban the use of the term “milk” in labeling and marketing for non-dairy products, but it gained little traction among other legislators.

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