From NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern
“We welcome the public comment request announced today
by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that we hope will finally curtail the misleading labeling practices of plant-based foods imitating real dairy products. NMPF will provide additional perspective explaining why the agency must enforce its own labeling regulations and limit the use of standardized dairy terms to products that come from an animal.
“We are pleased that after years of engagement with FDA, the agency is finally addressing our concerns about how these plant-based products are inappropriately marketed to consumers. In fact, the docket recognizes many of the same issues we’ve brought to light over the last four decades: that plant-based products are packaged, merchandized and sold in the same way as real dairy foods, yet provide fewer nutrients and therefore cannot be considered suitable substitutes.
“However, our comments will further emphasize that at its heart, our concern over accurate labeling is a concern not just about nutritional equivalence and the implications for public health. A food identified by a standard of identity is so much more than just a collection of nutrients. A standardized dairy food, like milk, yogurt or butter, is defined by its inherent characteristics including how and where it is sourced, and its sensory attributes and performance properties. Quite simply, just adding plant protein, calcium and a few other ingredients to water does not make it milk.
“We appreciate Commissioner Gottlieb’s efforts to evaluate current food labeling practices and how they can impact public health. But, as important as that is, we also believe FDA’s efforts must go a step further. We will remain engaged throughout this and future processes to keep a spotlight on this critical issue.”