Draft Guidance Not Enough to Prevent Misleading Labeling, NMPF Tells FDA; Plus IDFA Comments

The National Milk Producers Federation says the Food and Drug Administration’s plant-based beverage proposal “falls woefully short of ending the decades-old problem of misleading plant-based labeling using dairy terminology.”

In comments to the FDA on the proposal, NMPF emphasized the importance of transparent product labeling to ensure consumer understanding. NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern says, “FDA’s draft guidance is an encouraging first step toward promoting labeling transparency in the marketplace, but it’s not enough.” In its comments, NMPF commended FDA for its acknowledgment of consumer confusion over the nutritional content of dairy imitators. Still, NMPF cautioned FDA to adhere to the law by going through the proper legal process, as outlined in NMPF’s Citizen Petition and comments.

Because of the voluntary nature of the proposed guidance and FDA’s undependable labeling enforcement history, NMPF continues its work in Congress to pass the bipartisan, bicameral DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would direct FDA to enforce its own rules and clarify that dairy terms are for true dairy products.

We also have comments on the issue from IDFA below:

IDFA Comments on the FDA’s Draft Guidance on the ‘Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements’

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2023—The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in support of the agency’s position that consumers need additional clarity on the labels of plant-based “milk” alternatives, such as “soy milk” and “almond milk,” to more easily discern when these beverages are nutritionally different from milk. Roberta Wagner, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), issued the following statement:

“For several years, IDFA has been advocating for the FDA to issue industry guidance that aligns with its standards that foods must be labeled in a truthful and non-misleading way while also advancing nutrition security of all Americans. We firmly believe that the FDA’s proposal to include a list of nutrients on the front of the container for plant-based milk alternatives is insufficient as a solution and onerous for consumers. For example, stating how nutrients differ from those found in milk in the manner proposed by the FDA would make it difficult for consumers to do side-by-side comparisons of nutrients in non-dairy beverages and milk and may further confuse consumers. Consumers should not need an advanced college degree in nutrition to make purchasing decisions. As an alternative, IDFA recommends FDA include a simple declarative statement about the nutritional difference between milk and plant-based milk alternatives and encourage consumers to use the nutrition information on the existing Nutrition Facts Panel of non-dairy beverages to make purchasing decisions that are right for themselves and their families.”

Please see IDFA’s full comments submitted Monday and IDFA’s previous statement on FDA’s proposed guidance in February 2023.