You might recall The Good Food Institute filed a petition for rulemaking with the FDA, in which we called on the agency to clarify its stance on labeling terms like soy milk. If you don’t recall, get up to speed already!
I asked GFI’s director of policy, Jessica Almy, to give us an update.
The update is – drumroll – we’re still waiting.
And the pressure is mounting on the agency to deliver a response.
Three recent court cases show why the FDA needs to grant our petition—because consumers understand these terms, courts want the FDA involved, and the approach GFI proposes is consistent with the First Amendment. It's stacking in our favor here.
Jessica brings you the latest:
- A U.S. District Court rejected the argument that almond milk should be labeled “imitation milk,” because “even the least sophisticated consumer” would understand the term almond milk.
- Another court, faced with a similar claim of consumer confusion, said that the FDA was better situated to address the issue of labeling plant-based beverages and urged the agency to act.
- Finally, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that restrictions on the use of a milk term on (dairy) labels violated the First Amendment because were “clearly more extensive than necessary to serve [an] interest in preventing deception and ensuring adequate nutritional standards.” We make the same argument in our petition—that courts would eviscerate any restrictions on using “milk” with modifiers like soy, almond, and coconut.
We officially submitted these cases to FDA and urged the agency to act.
Meanwhile, the popularity of plant-based milk continues to grow. However, rather than diversify their offerings, the people behind the National Milk Producers Federation are spending their time…well, crying over spilt milk. They submitted comments on our petition and mounted a letter-writing campaign among dairy farmers.
While the FDA bides its time, we’re keeping up the pressure.
We’ll keep you posted.
To learn more about The Good Food Institute's work to level the playing field for plant-based alternatives to animal products, check out what we do.