FDA releases draft guidance on how plant-based milk products should be labeled


The plant-based milk you buy may soon change the label.

Issued by the US Food and Drug Administration. draft guide A medium on how companies should define plant-based products that are marketed as alternatives to dairy milk, such as almond, oat, or soy milk.

According to the draft guidelines, any plant-based dairy product with the word “milk” in its name must include a statement explaining how the product compares to dairy milk.

“Food labels are an important way to support consumer behavior, so we encourage the use of voluntary nutrition claims to help customers make informed decisions,” said Susan Main, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. in a statement.

In the future, alternative milk labels may state “contains less vitamin D and calcium than milk” or “contains less protein than milk.”

But the manual “assumes that cow’s milk is the best standard. Couldn’t human milk be the best standard?” asked nutrition researcher Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. T. H. Chana and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“The requirement for the same protein content as cow’s milk is questionable as protein intake is not recognized as a critical issue for children,” he added. “If anything, the amount in breast milk would be a reasonable standard.”

Humans are the only mammals that drink the milk of another animal, noted Dr. David Katz, specialist in preventive medicine, lifestyle medicine and nutrition.

“Those of us who prefer plant-based foods may well argue that plant-based milk preference can be the standard, and cow’s milk should indicate how it differs from them,” he said.

“Given that… I think the guidance the FDA has provided is excellent,” Katz said in an email. “If a product is designed and labeled as ‘replacing’ something, it makes sense to compare it directly to that ‘something’,” he said.

Switch to soy, rice and almond milk. Grocery shelves now carry “cashews, coconut, flaxseed, hazelnuts, hempseeds, macadamia nuts, oats, peas, peanuts, pecans, quinoa, and walnut-based drinks,” the FDA said in a statement.

Consumers may not realize that these products are made from liquids extracted from such nuts, legumes, seeds or grains and have a different composition than traditional dairy milk.

“Getting enough nutrients from milk and fortified soy drinks is especially important to help children grow and develop, and parents and caregivers should be aware that many plant-based alternatives do not contain the same nutrients as milk,” said Maine.

In fact, some plant-based milks are superior to cow’s milk, Willett says. Soy milk contains far more beneficial essential fatty acids than cow’s milk, he says, and there is evidence that consuming soy phytoestrogens during adolescence may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

“In addition, high consumption of cow’s milk during adolescence has been associated with a higher risk of fracture later in life, likely because cow’s milk consumption increases blood levels of a hormone called ‘insulin-like growth factor’,” he added.

Willett is a co-author review 2020 on milk and human health, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The review states that dairy milk did not prevent fractures, which is often used as a reason for giving milk to children and adults. Instead, the study found higher rates of hip fractures in countries that consumed the most milk and calcium.

The proposed requirements for the same levels of vitamins D and A are reasonable, Willett said, but it’s important to note that milk contains high levels of these vitamins because they are added.

Many plant-based milks are also fortified with vitamins, minerals, calcium and protein, but experts say it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly.

However, the draft guidelines “should lead to consumers being clearly labeled to provide them with the information they need to make informed nutritional and purchasing decisions about the foods they buy for themselves and their families,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. -R. This is stated in a statement by Robert Kaliff.

The FDA is accepting comments on the guidance.