US Food and Drug Administration Plans to Develop Guidelines for Labeling Plant Milks

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

On June 29, 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
released a list of topics that they intend to issue guidance on over the next
year. One topic on the list was “Labeling of Plant-based Milk Alternatives; Draft
Guidance for Industry.” These “plant-based milk alternatives” include products
like soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, and other beverages based on legumes,
nuts, grains, and other plant foods.

In 2018, the FDA asked for public comments on the “Use of the Names of Dairy Foods in Labeling Plant-Based Products.”  At that time, the FDA wanted to hear from consumers about how they use plant-based products and how they understand terms such as, for example, “milk” or “yogurt” when included in the names of plant-based products. They also wanted to know if consumers are aware of and understand differences between the basic nature, characteristics, ingredients, and nutritional content of plant-based products and their dairy counterparts. VRG submitted comments at that time and, in 2020, asked survey respondents what they expected from a beverage labeled soy milk.

If
FDA requests public comments as they develop guidelines for labeling plant
milks, we will post instructions for responding to their request on VRG’s blog.

For
VRG’s comments on  Use of the
Names of Dairy Foods in Labeling Plant-Based Products see: https://www.vrg.org/blog/2018/11/21/vrg-sent-these-comments-to-the-food-and-drug-administation-fda-in-response-to-fda-asks-for-input-on-use-of-the-names-of-dairy-foods-in-labeling-plant-based-products/

For information about VRG’s poll on consumer expectations
from a beverage labeled soy milk see: https://www.vrg.org/blog/2020/10/30/what-do-american-adults-expect-from-a-beverage-labeled-soymilk-questions-asked-by-the-vegetarian-resource-group-in-a-national-poll/

For FDA’s list of Foods Program Guidance Topics see: https://www.fda.gov/food/guidance-documents-regulatory-information-topic-food-and-dietary-supplements/foods-program-guidance-under-development