FDA plans to restrict almond, soy milk makers from calling their products ‘milk’

The FDA plans to start enforcing guidelines that would prevent manufacturers of products like almond and soy milk from using the word ‘milk’ in marketing and labeling.

The FDA plans to start enforcing guidelines that would prevent manufacturers of products like almond and soy milk from using the word ‘milk’ in marketing and labeling.


In a talk with Politico, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said his agency already has many federal guidelines called ‘standards of identity’ that dictate how various foods and beverages need to be manufactured in order to be marketed under a certain name. The standard of identity for milk, for example, describes milk as “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.”

According to Gottlieb, the question is whether the FDA has been enforcing its own guidelines.

“The answer is probably not,” he said. “An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.”

The announcement was likely well received by dairy farmers, many of whom have been calling on the FDA to enforce stricter interpretations of its guidelines for years.

“NMPF [National Milk Producers Federation] welcomed Gottlieb’s recognition today that the labeling practices of many plant-based dairy imitators violate long-standing federal standards,” Chris Galen, a spokesman for the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

In December 2016, 34 members of congress signed a letter to the FDA urging it to take action against the lactose-free ‘milk’ manufacturers, arguing that the use of the word is harmful to the dairy industry and consumers.

“As you know, dairy farmers are facing a serious financial crisis,” the letter reads. “These hard working Americans have experienced deep cuts in income as milk prices have plunged 40 percent since 2014.”


theimpulsivebuy via Flickr

Meanwhile, sales of nondairy milk alternatives, like almond and soy milk, have increased by more than 60 percent over the past five years. These products are staples of the vegan and vegetarian diets, both of which have become increasingly popular.

Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, said the FDA’s decision was ‘unnecessary’.

“There’s no denying that the meat, dairy and egg industries are feeling threatened, and this is a desperate move to try to restrict the marketing of those cruelty-free products,” Piasecka told Newsweek. “Ultimately, regardless of what vegan alternatives to dairy are named, they will continue to enjoy growing popularity as more consumers are moving towards an ethical, sustainable and healthy vegan diet,” she said.

In any case, the nondairy ‘milk’ alternatives will have time to brace for the change.

“This is going to take time,” Gottlieb said, adding that he can’t do it unilaterally and that the agency would seek public comment on the issue. “It’s not going to take two years, but it probably takes something close to a year to get to go through that process.”

 

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • In some fundamental ways, humans haven't changed all that much since the days when we were sitting around communal fires, telling tales.
  • Although we don't always recognize them as such, stories, symbols, and rituals still have tremendous, primal power to move us and shape our lives.
  • This is no less true in the workplace than it is in our personal lives.

Has a black hole made of sound confirmed Hawking radiation?

One of Stephen Hawking's predictions seems to have been borne out in a man-made "black hole".

Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Surprising Science
  • Stephen Hawking predicted virtual particles splitting in two from the gravitational pull of black holes.
  • Black holes, he also said, would eventually evaporate due to the absorption of negatively charged virtual particles.
  • A scientist has built a black hole analogue based on sound instead of light.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • The word "creative" is sometimes waved around like a badge of honor. We speak of creativity in hushed tones, as the special province of the "talented". In reality, the creative process is messy, open, and vulnerable.
  • For this reason, creativity is often at its best in a group setting like brainstorming. But in order to work, the group creative process needs to be led by someone who understands it.
  • This sense of deep trust—that no idea is too silly, that every creative impulse is worth voicing and considering—is essential to producing great work.