On February 22, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), released draft guidance regarding the labeling of plant-based milk alternatives.
The draft guidance, which provides industry with guidance on labeling plant-based milk alternatives, was released 4 years after the FDA published a notice seeking comments on the topic.
To provide industry with recommendations for naming and voluntary nutrient statements for plant-based milk alternatives (PBMAs).
Use of the term “milk”
By the FDA’s 1973 definition, milk is: “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows”.
Because plant-based milk alternatives do not meet this definition, they fall subject to USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service standards for fluid milk substitutes and must contain a minimum amount of calcium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin B-12. PBMAs must use a statement of identity that accurately qualifies the use of the term “milk” – i.e. “soy milk”, or “cashew milk”.
The qualifying word in front of “nutrient statement” is “voluntary”, meaning discretion is being left up to the manufacturer whether or not they choose to label their PBMAs with a nutrient statement. This voluntary guidance was immediately met with pushback from the dairy industry, most notably by a proposed bi-partisan bill dubbed the “DAIRY PRIDE Act” which would prohibit products made from nuts, seeds, plants, and algae from using the term milk.
To be determined. The draft guidance has yet to be implemented and the FDA is currently accepting comments. We recommend anyone who is looking to follow this topic keep an eye on FDA updates from us.
This article provides a supplemental review of the FDA statement titled “Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements: Guidance for Industry”, and is not a substitute for reading the complete draft guidance document.
This draft document remains open for consultation until April 24, 2023.
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