State Regulators Chime in on Plant-based Milk Labeling Debate
Under a standard of identity “milk” is defined as “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more health cows” (21 C.F.R. Section 131.110). For years, the dairy industry has called on the FDA to crack down on the use of dairy-related terms such as “milk” for plant-based products. So far, FDA has not taken a position on this issue.
On May 17, 2017, state milk regulators voted unanimously in favor of a resolution intended to clarify the responsibilities of FDA and state programs in ensuring the proper use of standardized dairy product names. The vote took place at the biennial meeting of the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS). The resolution includes the statement: “Imitation products using the names of federally standardized Grade “A” milk and milk products in their product labeling have the potential to foster consumer confusion about the relationship of these products to the Grade ”A” program.” The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) hailed this development as “the strongest statement yet that the abuse of dairy terms has gone too far.” The vote was dismissed as unhelpful by the Plant Based Foods Association.
It remains to be seen whether FDA will take any action in response to the NCIMS resolution.