FDA: Use of the Names of Dairy Foods in the Labeling of Plant-Based Products

On September 28, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a request for comments on the labeling of plant-based products with names that include the names of dairy foods such as “milk,” “cultured milk,” “yogurt,” and “cheese.” The FDA is interested in learning how consumers use the aforementioned plant-based products and how the understand terms such as “milk” or “yogurt” when included in the names of plant-based products.  FDA will use the comments to determine an approach to labeling plant-based products that consumers may substitute for dairy foods.

FDA notes that over the past several years, there has been an emergence and expansion of plant-based products labeled with names that include the names of dairy foods such as ‘‘milk’’ (e.g., ‘‘soy milk,’’ ‘‘almond milk’’), ‘‘cultured milk’’ (e.g.,‘‘coconut kefir’’), ‘‘yogurt’’ (e.g., ‘‘soy yogurt,’’ ‘‘almond milk yogurt’’), and ‘‘cheese’’ (e.g., ‘‘vegan mozzarella cheese’’). These products are often packaged in the same kinds of cartons, tubs, or bottles as their dairy counterparts and sometimes are sold in or adjacent to the dairy display in stores. However, these plant-based products may not have the same basic nature, essential characteristics, and characterizing ingredients as their dairy counterparts and may differ in their performance characteristics (e.g., physical properties, flavor characteristics, functional properties, or shelf life) such that they are not suitable substitutes for certain uses. Some plant based products also may contain less nutrients than their dairy counterparts and may not meet the recommendation for dairy food group intake in the ‘‘2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.’’

Advocacy is aware that many of the businesses that manufacture and distribute plant-based products are small.  We encourage affected small businesses to submit comments to the FDA on the impacts any potential plant-based labeling rule may have on their business.

The comment deadline is November 27, 2018.

  • Advocacy contact: Linwood Rayford at 202-205-6533
  • Submit electronic comments in the following way: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Submit written submissions in the following way: Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for paper or CD-ROM submissions): Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

Comments are closed.