In the absence of action by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), consumer-advocacy and dairy trade
groups are disputing whether plant-based beverages, such as
those made from soy or almonds, can be called “milk.” The Good
Food Institute (GFI) sent a July 31, 2017, letter to FDA requesting
action on a 1997 citizen petition filed by the Soyfoods Association
of America seeking recognition of the term “soy milk.” The
National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) answered with a
statement the same day, saying the effort to alter food-labeling
standards “falsely suggests that the products are nutritionally

Although FDA has previously issued letters to producers of plant-based
beverages warning that their use of the term “milk” is
improper because such products do not contain dairy, the agency
has never responded to the 1997 petition.

NMPF argued that GFI “is mistaken” for trying to revive the 1997
petition and that “[n]othing has happened in the intervening time
period to allow the combination of soy powder, water, emulsifiers,
stabilizers, sugar, sodium and added vitamins to magically
become milk.”

In the meantime, the European Court of Justice ruled in June that
the term “milk” could only be used for animal-derived products
rather than plant-based beverages and foods. Additional details
appear in Issue 638 of this Update.


Issue 643

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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