The FDA, which previously announced its intention to release draft guidelines on the labeling of plant-based milk by the end of June, told us:The FDA intends to release a draft guideline titled ‘Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Substances and Voluntary Nutrient Claims: Draft Guidelines for the Industry’ in the future. near the. Draft Guidelines are currently under review by OMB [which has a standard review time of 90 days]. “
When asked when the FDA would define ‘healthy’, the agency said: “The FDA has drafted a proposed rule, and it is being reviewed by OMB.“Separately, two studies – mentioned here–Into a logo that companies can use on products that meet the definition of ‘healthy’ will proceed”in the near futureThe agency added.
Labeling of milk of plant origin
While terms like ‘soy milk’ and ‘oat milk’ are banned in the EU (where OFast is an Oat Drink), they are widely used in the US (where OFast is Oat Milk) . And the FDA – say critics – has vainly wavered over whether such provisions mislead shoppers or violate them. federal standards of identity,Limit the term ‘milk’ to “bacterial secretions”“Cow’s.
For example, the FDA queried the term ‘soy milk’ in warning letters to several manufacturers in 2008 and 2012, but then remained silent on the radio on the subject until the commissioner. FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. rekindling the debate in mid-2018, To delegates at a conference in Washington, “We have an identity standard for milk and I’m going to do just that… a lactate-free almond. “
However, Gottlieb also notes that there may be First Amendment issues to be addressed and that the FDA could face regulatory challenges by abruptly banning terms like ‘almond milk’, has tacitly endorsed the term on food labels for many years.
One Inquiry released in September 2018To solicit feedback on the issue generated a dizzying amount of comments, with dairy manufacturers arguing that the word ‘milk’, even with the term ‘almond’ before it, falsely implied about nutritional equivalence with milk; while the Good Food Institute and the Plant-Based Foods Association say there is no evidence that consumers are misleading or that they think oat or almond milk should exactly match the nutrition of dairy milk. .
GFI told FoodNavigator-USA: “GFI petitioned FDA in 2017 for a general rule to clarify that compound names such as ‘oat milk’ and ‘almond milk’ are legal. Now would be a great time for the FDA to issue that petition and put this issue to bed once and for all. “
What is ‘milk’?
FDA Identification Standard The definition of the unqualified term ‘milk’ is ‘Bacterial secretion, practically free of colostrum, is obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows. ‘
According to plant-based brands, those who typically use modifiers (e.g. almond milk) and additional qualitative agents (e.g. dairy-free, plant-based, non-dairy milk) to make it clear that they don’t sell milk from milkSuch identity standards are designed to address fraud and economic adulteration, not to prevent plant-based alternatives from referring to fully standardized terms (eg. : milk) in their marketing.
Courts dealing with cases of false advertising of plant ‘milk’ tend to agree, argue thatFederal standards for milk identification do not explicitly prevent a company from naming food products consists of From ‘milk.’
For example, in a case versus Trader Joe’s,Judge Vince Chhabria noted that the word ‘soy’ before ‘milk’ cleared up any confusion about the contents of the package in question: “Trader Joe’s does not call its products ‘soy milk’, and has attempted to dismiss those products as FDA-standardized foods (i.e. milk).”
On the question of nutritional equivalence, Stephen Wilson, judge in a false advertising case against Blue Diamond Growers (Almond Breeze) in California, don’t buy argumentsThat the word ‘milk’ comes with certain nutritional expectations, adding: “If consumers are concerned about the nutritional quality of a product, they can read the nutrition label…”
What is healthy?
Traditional food labeling rules allow ‘healthy’ claims for foods with 3g or less total fat and 1g or less saturated fat per serving (excluding fish and meat), with limits on cholesterol and sodium as well as recommended minimum nutrient requirements (vitamin A (C, calcium, iron, protein or fiber) No limits on sugar – added in or otherwise.
However, the FDA took a fresh look at this definition in 2016 after KIND Snacks challenged a definition of ‘healthy’, immediately excluding products high in healthy unsaturated fats. like nuts and avocados.
This leads to guideA ‘healthy’ claim is allowed for products with a higher fat content provided they”has a fat composition consisting mainly of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat; or contains at least 10% of the Daily Value (DV) per RACC of potassium or vitamin D.
FDA simultaneously issued request information from stakeholders about fair use of the termIn September 2016, Reminded thousands of mixed comments.
Dr. Marion Nestle: ‘We’ll end up with a lot of products that meet the definition but are still a ‘better’ snack or option for you”
Several commentators have questioned the merits of this exercise, including the nonprofit food and nutrition education organization Oldways – best known for creating the Whole Grain stamp – which urge FDA“I strongly disagree with the use of the word ‘healthy’, as overall diet determines health – not individual foods – and certainly not individual nutrients.
Even the FDA’s new guide “will still results in a food like brown rice that doesn’t qualify for the healthy label,”Oldways notes: “Regardless of what combination of nutrient criteria the FDA may claim to be healthy, it is inevitable that a reductionist approach will result in an effort to facilitate the system’s use of dietary supplements. fortified foods, while some natural foods may not qualify. “
If the FDA had to come up with a definition, it added, “Oldways recommends using it to highlight whole or minimally processed plant foods, specifically recommended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans [including fruits, vegetables, legumes/pulses, whole grains, vegetable oils if mostly unsaturated, herbs and spices, nuts, and seeds] instead of attaching the word ‘healthy’ to a nutrient-packed recipe. ”
Meanwhile, Dr. Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Research and Public Health at New York University, told us:The problem with all of this is that the criteria are certainly arbitrary and prone to flaking. We’ll end up with a lot of products that meet the definition but are still junk food or a ‘better for you’ option. Junk food that’s better for you still might not be a good choice.”
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of BetterThanDieting.com, and author of Read Before You Eat – Taking You From Label to Table, tells FoodNavigator-USA: “Looking at an individual food and slapping an icon with healthy content on it is like expecting an instrument to play the music of an orchestra.”
Saturated fat, sugar, juice, in the limelight
Reading through the comments made in 2017, most stakeholders agree that dropping the total fat threshold makes sense, but disagree on saturated fat; while cholesterol is also controversial, with CSPI urging the FDA to maintain cholesterol limits, while Unilever argues that “Limit your intake[dietary] cholesterol is no longer a concern based on current scientific evidence”.
Perhaps the biggest crux of the controversy, however, has been added sugar, with some industry stakeholders such as the Cranberry Institute claiming that a food is high in nutrients.”fruits such as cranberries, sweetened to enhance the taste, should not be discounted because they contain added sugar“While Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics”strongly advocate updating any definition of ‘healthy’ to limit added sugars. “
Juice also emerged as another hit, with CSPI arguing that the FDA should not allow ‘healthy’ claims to juices.,For the reason we should encourage consumers to eat “the healthiest form of fruit: whole fruit,” While the Juice Products Association begs to differ.
FDA’s healthy probe triggered by a rowFor snack bar maker KIND, said rules that require ‘healthy’ foods that meet the criteria for a ‘low-fat’ claim are obsoleteBecause they exclude high-fat foods we know to be nutritious like nuts and avocados, but include low-fat sugary foods.
FDA agreedTo re-evaluate its conditions of use for ‘healthy’ nutrient content claims, and invited to comment publicly About questions include:
- The foods, ifShould be allowed to carry the term ‘sane?’
- What other words or terms might be more appropriate (e.g. ‘nutritious’)?
- What do consumers understand as ‘healthy’ in relation to food?
Image credit: KIND