No cow needed: Oat and soy can be called milk, FDA proposes
Draft federal regulations published on Wednesday allow beverages marketed as “milk”—including soy, oat, almond, and others—to continue using the name.
According to FDA officials’ recommendations, plant-based beverages don’t claim to be made from dairy animals, and American customers aren’t misled by the distinction.
For many years, dairy farmers have urged the FDA to take action against plant-based beverages and other goods that they claim pass for animal-based commodities and obscure the true definition of “milk.”
Under the draft rules, the agency recommends that beverage makers label their products clearly by the plant source of the food, such as “soy milk” or “cashew milk.”
The majority of customers are aware that liquid plant extracts have no resemblance to a cow’s udder, the agency said in its draught suggestion.
But in a concession to the nation’s traditional milk producers, the F.D.A. also recommended that the packaging for plant-based drinks make clear the key nutritional differences between their products and cow’s milk. If a carton of rice milk contains less vitamin D or calcium than dairy milk does, for example, the label should provide that information to consumers, the agency said.
Numerous varieties of plant-based drinks have emerged in recent years, including those made from cashew, coconut, hemp, and quinoa. Although the beverages are derived from the liquid extracts of plant components, they are usually branded – and advertised – as “milks.”