The United States (US) has moved to clamp down on the mislabelling of plant-based milk.

In new draft labelling recommendations, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said plant-based milk alternatives that include the term “milk” in their name, such as soy milk and almond milk, should come with a nutrient warning.

This warning should outline how the almond or soy milk has a different nutrient composition than real milk, the FDA said in its guidance for the US food sector.

It suggested that the labelling could say that the vegan product “contains lower amounts of vitamin D and calcium than milk”, for example.

“Today’s draft guidance was developed to help address the significant increase in plant-based milk alternative products that we have seen become available in the marketplace over the past decade.

“The draft recommendations issued today should lead to providing consumers with clear labelling to give them the information they need to make informed nutrition and purchasing decisions on the products they buy for themselves and their families,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M Califf.

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The FDA guidance comes as it says there has been an increase in the availability and consumption of plant-based alternative products.

It also said the variety of these products in the marketplace has greatly expanded from soy, rice and almond to include cashew, coconut, flaxseed, hazelnut, hemp seed, macadamia nut, oat, pea, peanut, pecan, quinoa and walnut-based beverages.

US officials have proposed that plant-based milk alternatives, such as oat milk, should come with a nutrient warning.

Although these products are made from liquid-based extracts of plant materials, such as tree nuts, legumes, seeds or grains, they are frequently labeled with names that include the term 'milk', the FDA warned.

The US administration said dairy foods, including milk, are recommended by the dietary guidelines as part of a healthy eating pattern and contribute multiple key nutrients for humans, including protein and vitamins A and B-12, along with calcium, potassium and vitamin D, which it said are currently “under-consumed”.

“Getting enough of the nutrients in milk and fortified soy beverages is especially important to help children grow and develop, and parents and caregivers should know that many plant-based alternatives do not have the same nutrients as milk,” said director of the FDA’s centre for food safety and applied nutrition Susan T Mayne.


While the FDA is accepting comments on the draft guidance for now, it suggested that a food manufacturer could choose to implement the recommendations as they are, before they become final.

The FDA says it is also in the process of developing a draft guidance to address the mislabelling and naming of other plant-based alternative products, such as vegan burgers.

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