US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb has indicated during a Politico conference that the FDA will enforce dairy-alternative brands to relabel their products.
The comments come after a lengthy debate about the issue of whether products such as almond milk and soya milk should be labelled as such. In the US, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has been campaigning for a change to take place in labelling rules for at least a year.
Gottlieb has previously said that he ‘intends to enforce’ this ruling.
During the conference, he commented: “There is a reference somewhere in the standard of [our] identity to a lactating animal.
“And an almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.”
Figures indicate that non-dairy alternatives is a booming industry. Mintel, market research agency, says that since 2012, US sales of non-dairy milk have increased by 61%, with manufacturers earning $2.11 billion from the enterprise. This is indicative of how much profit the dairy industry has lost out on in the process.
NMPF says: “NMPF believes labelling abuses by product manufacturers, further consumer confusion”, which has lead to a dip in profits for the dairy industry.
Jim Mulhern, chief executive officer of NMPF, commented on the lack of action so far: “[This] has led to rampant consumer fraud related to the inferior nutrient content of these non-dairy products compared to their true dairy counterparts.”
As well as nut milks, there is a range of products being labelled as nut yogurt, cheese, ice cream and butter, produce which many dairy groups such as NMPF say harm the welfare of dairy producers and brands.
Gottlieb’s comments come just over a year after the European Court of Justice ruled that products such as almond and soya milk will have to be rebrand their products without the word milk, or face prosecution.