Debate over milk-based products rumbles on

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CLARITY: Fake food crack down. (Photo: NutritionFacts.org)

The US Food and Drug Agency is stepping in to end the debate over the use of dairy names for plant-based milk products.

It has asked for public advise on the development of guidelines to provide greater clarity on appropriate labeling of plant-based alternatives such as almond milk and vegan cheese.

“Consumers should be able to know at a quick glance what type of product they’re purchasing for themselves and their families,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says in a statement.

Many dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and certain cheeses, have standards of identity established by regulation, which require certain components and ingredients.

“More recently, these names have appeared in the labeling of plant-based products as part of the name of the product. Some examples include soy milk or almond milk and vegan mozzarella cheese,” Gottlieb says.

These plant-based products are sometimes packaged very similarly to those used for milk or yogurt and are sold in the dairy section of grocery stores.

“We’re on a fast track to take a fresh look at the labeling of products that are being positioned in the marketplace as substitutes for dairy products,” Gottlieb says.

“We’re carefully assessing products to determine whether any have misleading labels that would prompt us to take action to ensure consumers are not under the misconception that their plant-based beverage is a dairy product in disguise.”

National Milk Producers Federation president and chief executive Jim Mulhern says he hopes the FDA move will end the misleading labeling practices of plant-based foods.

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