FDA Commissioner Says He Will Enforce 'Milk' Standard of Identity
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said yesterday his agency will soon begin enforcing standards of identity for “milk” which would preclude soy and other vegetable and nut beverages from labeling themselves as “milk.”
Gottlieb made his statement yesterday at a Politico Pro Summit in Washington, noting that “an almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.” FDA will hold a hearing July 26 to get public input on enforcement of existing regulations, and will likely take a year to resolve.
"Invariably we're going to get sued, probably," he said. "If you open up [FDA's] standard of identity, it talks about a lactating animal. But if you open up a dictionary, it talks about milk coming from a lactating animal or a nut."
The news was welcomed by dairy groups. “After years of inaction in response to our complaints about these labeling violations, Dr. Gottlieb’s announcement that the agency is intending to act on this issue is very encouraging,” says Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “The marketing of non-dairy imitators must comply with federal standards of identity, and consumers should not be misled that these products have the same nutrition as real milk, yogurt, cheese and other natural products.”
The American Dairy Coalition (ADC), which just on Monday had launched an initiative to enforce the milk standard of identity, was also pleased with Gottlieb’s announcement. “As we see dairy farmers from across the U.S. suffering with low milk prices and other commodity prices, tariff uncertainty and lack of reliable labor force, this news finally provides a positive movement in the dairy industry,” says Laurie Fischer, ADC CEO.