The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released draft recommendations on labelling milk products accepting dairy-free alternatives using the term “milk”, but only if specific information is added on the labels, a requirement dairy milk does not have to follow.

Any plant-based milk that uses the term “milk” on its name has to include nutritional information on its labels that compare it to dairy milk, such as, for example, lower amounts of Vitamin D and calcium than milk (if that is true). The FDA received more than 13,000 responses to its request for information from the public about their perception regarding plant-based milk labels. Based on these responses, the FDA claims that potential consumers may be clear that plant-based milk did not contain milk, but may be less sure of the specific nutritional differences between them, and this is why they created the labelling condition of adding nutritional comparative information. However, dairy milk does not have to add any comparative nutritional information, such as it contains more cholesterol than plant-based milk — or any environmental information either, such as it uses more water or has a higher carbon footprint.

The Plant Based Food Association (PBFA), said the following: “The FDA’s draft guidance implies that the inherent nutritional content of plant-based milk products is somehow inferior to that of dairy milk products, despite the fact many of the nutrients boasted by animal-based milk are the result of fortification…One cup of whole milk and one cup of skim milk typically have different nutritional profiles. As such, the new guidance raises more questions than it answers: What nutrient levels are considered ‘typical’?”

US citizens can comment on this FDA draft guidance, so you can submit your comment by 24th April 2023 using their website.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.