March 21, 2023

FDA Advises Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives

The FDA is advising companies about labeling of plant-based milk alternatives, since they have different nutrient compositions than cow’s milk. These recommendations will make it clear to consumers about these differences so they can make informed decisions.

FDA Advises Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives

Plant-based products are made from hazelnuts, walnuts, coconuts, cashews, almonds, sesame seed, flax seed, hemp seed, rice, oats, and legumes, including soy.

The FDA recommends that these products are labeled with “milk” in their names, such as “almond milk.” They would also like to see a voluntary nutrient statement that shows consumers how the product compares with cow’s ilk. If the product does not include the word “milk” as part of it name, but instead uses a word like “drink” and doesn’t make any claims comparing the product to cow’s milk, then these recommendations do not apply.

In 2018, the FDA requested comments from the public to learn how consumers use these products and how they understand what “milk” means when these items are made from soy, peas, and nuts. In focus groups, the FDA learned that some consumers buy these products to replace cow’s milk and regard them as healthier alternatives.

The FDA found that consumers understand these plant-based milk alternatives do not contain milk and they are chosen for that reason. But many consumers aren’t aware of the nutritional differences between cow’s milk and plant-based milks. For instance, some nut based milks may contain some calcium, but their overall nutritional content is not similar to milk and fortified soy beverages and aren’t included in the dairy group designation in Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025.

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