Citing data that shows consumers are being misled about the nutritional merits of cow’s milk versus plant-based imitators, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to end deceptive labeling of fake-dairy products.
“The plant-based food and beverage industry has used FDA inaction as a cover to sell consumers a product that is heavily processed to look like real milk, but doesn’t deliver what matters most: a consistent, high-quality package of nutrients,” Mulhern said in remarks at NMPF’s annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. “This is contrary to the national goal of a healthy population and FDA’s mission to promote transparency and fairness,” he said. The consumer research will be shared with FDA as the agency solicits information on the public health implications of mislabeled, imitation dairy products.
In a survey by IPSOS, commissioned by Dairy Management Inc.:
- 73 percent of consumers believed that almond-based drinks had as much or more protein per serving than milk. Milk has eight times as much protein.
- 53 percent said they believed that plant-based food manufacturers labeled their products “milk” because their nutritional value is similar. That is not the case.
- Misinformation was more prevalent among those who only bought plant-based drinks. Of those buyers, 68 percent strongly or somewhat agreed those drinks have the same nutritional content as dairy milk. In reality, those beverages do not.
With media reports suggesting an increase in the number of U.S. children suffering from nutritionally inadequate diets, milk labeling “is much more than a sideshow over whether consumers can tell the difference between an almond or a cow,” Mulhern said. Consumers deserve more respect than that – but FDA needs to help them out by clearly distinguishing between true milk and water-heavy, nutrition-poor imitators, he said.
“FDA needs to immediately end the application of the term ‘milk’ to non-dairy products,” he said.