In September 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a request for information as it examined its approach to the use of the terms "milk," "cheese," or "yogurt," in the labeling of plant-based foods and beverages.
Comments were submitted on the request, with the first deadline of Nov. 27, 2018, extended to Jan. 28, 2019. The comments submitted were mixed, with nearly 12,000 comments received as of Jan. 22, 2019.
A national survey from October 2018 found:
20% of all consumers said plant-based beverages should be labeled milk;
41% of buyers of plant-based drinks support labeling of plant-based milk beverages as milk.
About 50% of consumers perceive that the main ingredient of a plant-based beverage is the plant itself.
More than one-third of consumers believe plant-based beverages have the same or more protein than dairy milk.
In a petition, the National Milk Producers Federation asked FDA to enforce existing labeling requirements against non-dairy substitutes.
The National Milk Producers Federation supports federal standards that say milk must come from a lactating animal. They also support the Dairy Pride Act, which was introduced by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. The Dairy Pride Act seeks to ensure that federal law regarding the labeling of food products is enforced.
Most recently, a bill to define milk as the product of a cow has passed the Virgina Senate and awaits action by Gov. Ralph Northam, according to Specialty Food.
North Carolina was the first state to adopt a dairy purity law. Maryland has also passed dairy legislation. Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin have also debated similar measures, according to WAMU.
Will FDA ultimately require almond milk to be called almond drink? Attorneys with Foley & Lardner LLP examine the issue.