• As previously reported in The Daily Intake, FDA has requested comments pertaining to consumer awareness and understanding of the use of milk and other dairy terms on plant-based alternatives. Depending upon the feedback received, FDA could then potentially revisit its policy of not enforcing the standard of identity for milk as it pertains to labeling plant-based products like almond milk, soy yogurt, and vegan cheese.
  • FDA’s Standards of Identity define milk in part as the “lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” The International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC Foundation) has released the responses from an on-line poll of 1,000 U.S. adults as to which of various products do or do not contain cow’s milk.
    • Percentages responding “contains cow’s milk” were: Whole milk (90%), Chocolate milk (85%), Nonfat milk (78%), Skim milk (74%), Lactose-Free milk (48%), Coconut milk (9%), Soymilk (9%), Almond milk (9%), Cashew milk (8%), and Rice milk (7%).
    • Percentages responding “does NOT contain cow’s milk” were: Whole milk (4%), Chocolate milk (7%), Nonfat milk (9%), Skim milk (14%), Lactose-Free milk (31%), Coconut milk (74%), Soymilk (75%), Almond milk (75%), Cashew milk (72%), and Rice milk (73%).
    • Percentages responding “Don’t know” were: Whole milk (5%), Chocolate milk (9%), Nonfat milk (12%), Skim milk (13%), Lactose-Free milk (22%), Coconut milk (18%), Soymilk (16%), Almond milk (16%), Cashew milk (20%), and Rice milk (20%).
  • The IFIC Foundation characterizes the survey results above as demonstrating a “low level” of consumer confusion on the nomenclature and basic differences between milk and dairy based products as compared to plant-based alternatives. According to Food Navigator, however, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) believes the results show an unacceptable level of uncertainty or confusion. The NMPF also notes that the survey did not gauge consumer understanding of the nutritional qualities of dairy milk versus plant-based beverages, which that group sees as a major concern.
  • The NMPF submitted a request for extension of the November 27, 2018 deadline for submitting comments to FDA regarding the use of the names of dairy foods in the labeling of plant-based products. Thus far, no arguments from the dairy or plant-based industries are among the 561 comments posted to the docket.