THURSDAY, Feb. 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Plant-based beverages that use oats, soy, almonds, cashews, and other products instead of dairy can continue to call themselves milk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released new draft rules on Wednesday, and the agency will accept comments on the draft through April 23.
These products do not pretend to be from cows, the FDA guidance said, and American consumers are not confused by the “milk” name. Producers of these products, made from the liquid extracts of plants, will need to clearly label them with their plant source, calling them, for example, “soy milk.” The FDA is also asking for voluntary extra nutrition labels on the products if they have lower levels of the nutrients than dairy milk contains, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
While the National Milk Producers Federation, an industry trade group, approved of the decision asking for extra nutrition information, they rejected the FDA conclusion that the word milk is a “common and usual name,” the Associated Press reported. The Good Food Institute, an advocate for plant-based products, said “the guidance misguidedly admonishes companies to make a direct comparison” with cow’s milk.
Key nutrients are already listed on labels of plant-based milk. Fortified soy milk is the only plant-based option that meets U.S. dietary guidelines for dairy.
While plant-based milks do big business, cow’s milk far outsells them still. Refrigerated cow’s milk sales grew to $12.3 billion in the year ending Jan. 28. Nondairy milk made $2.5 billion, according to NielsenIQ, the AP reported. Among the plant milks, almond remains most popular and oat milk is growing fastest.
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