Dairy farmers who want the terms “soy milk” and “almond milk” banished from our lexicon may soon get their way as a federal agency plans to enforce the definition of “milk” as something that comes from a cow, not a plant.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday that he intends to implement the change over the next year or so. The agency has long had a definition of milk as being an animal-based product, but it hasn’t been enforced.
“This has been a little bit of a bugaboo to the dairy industry,” Gottlieb said during a Politico event in Washington, D.C. “But we do have a standard of identity, and I intend to enforce that,” he said.
Before the FDA can implement the change, Gottlieb said, there will have to be public hearings to gather comments.
“It will probably take close to a year to go through that process. But that’s what we intend to do,” he said.
Gottlieb’s comments Tuesday were similar to testimony he presented this spring to the Senate, when he acknowledged the FDA has “exercised enforcement discretion” in not holding food marketers to federal standards limiting the use of standardized food terms.
Sales of milk as a beverage have been in decline for many years, while sales of plant-based beverages are up more than 60 percent during the past five years, according to industry figures.