Group pushes FDA to act on soy milk labeling petition

Group pushes FDA to act on soy milk labeling petition
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The Good Food Institute (GFI) is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to a 20-year-old petition and clarify once and for all that soy-based beverages can be labeled as “soy milk.”

The nonprofit, which works to promote plant-based meat, dairy and eggs, asked the FDA in a letter Monday to respond to the petition the Soyfoods Association sent on Feb. 28, 1997, asking the agency to allow manufacturers to use the term “soy milk.”

The GFI has also submitted a petition of its own.

The group asked the FDA in March to amend its regulations to clarify "that new foods may be named by reference to other 'traditional' foods in a manner that makes clear to consumers their distinct origins or properties."

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The GFI is referring to foods such as almond milk, cashew cheese and coconut yogurt.

“Consumers refer to soy milk as soy milk," the GFI said in its letter.

“The term clearly communicates that soy milk is a form of milk that is made of soy. Likewise, rice noodles are noodles that are made of rice, and gluten-free bread is a form of bread that does not contain gluten. FDA should provide clarity that such straightforward terms are acceptable.”

The GFI is threatening to sue if the FDA decides to restrict the use of the term “soy milk,” claiming it will have violated the First Amendment.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is pushing back. 

The group claims plant-based “milk” imitators are using dairy terminology and imagery to advertise their products as suitable replacements for cow’s milk and urged the FDA in a meeting last week to enforce its food standards.

“In the case of imitation milks, these beverages are nothing but a factory-made slurry of ground-up nuts or seeds combined with water, sugar, emulsifiers and thickeners,” NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said in a statement.

“By comparison, cow’s milk has attracted and nourished generations, and built a reputation as a natural food with a consistent package of nine essential nutrients. It is misleading and deceptive to allow these nutritionally inferior imitators to use our hard-won reputation to their advantage.”

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinMembers of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit Ellison introduces bill to curb stock buybacks Dem Senate super PAC reserves million in fall TV ads MORE (R-Wis.) and Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchMerkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry Lawmakers have sights on middlemen blamed for rising drug costs Dem letter calls for rolling back move targeting drug companies MORE (D-Vt.) are backing the milk association.

The lawmakers introduced the Dairy Pride Act in the House and Senate earlier this year to prohibit non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants and algae from being labeled as milk, yogurt or cheese under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.