The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced draft recommendations for industry on naming of plant-based foods that are marketed and sold as alternatives to milk. The draft guidance also recommends voluntary nutrient statements for the labelling of some plant-based milk alternatives.
“Today’s draft guidance was developed to help address the significant increase in plant-based milk alternative products that we have seen become available in the marketplace over the past decade,” said Robert M. Califf, Commissioner, FDA, M.D. “The draft recommendations issued today should lead to providing consumers with clear labeling 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 variety of alternative products available to the plant-based marketplace has widely expanded from soy, rice and almond to cashew, coconut, flaxseed, hazelnut, hemp seed and more. The FDA has said that these products are made from liquid extracts of plant materials but frequently labelled with names that include the term ‘milk’.
The draft guidance, ‘Labelling of Plant-based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements: Guidance for Industry’ recommends that a plant-based milk alternative product that includes the term ‘milk’ in its name such as ‘soy milk’ or ‘almond milk’ and has a nutrient composition different than milk, should include a voluntary nutrient statement conveying how the product compares with milk.
In September 2018, the FDA requested information on the labelling of plant-based milk alternatives with terms that include the names of dairy foods such as ‘milk’. More than 13,000 comments were received – at which point the FDA concluded consumer understand that plant-based milk alternatives do not contain milk and choose to purchase them because of this.
The decision is timely, as growing numbers of confectionery producers are trying their hand at releasing vegan or plant-based confectionery, driven both by consumer demand and increasing costs associated with conventional animal products. An Avian Flu outbreak in the US last year caused a 52% increase in egg prices.
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