healthHealth and Medicine

FDA Will Force Companies To Relabel Nut “Milk"

Different varieties of non-dairy... white beverage? Alexander Prokopenko/Shutterstock

According to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, a product that is labeled with the term "milk" must come from a mammary gland. You wouldn’t think this rule existed, however, if you’ve been to a dairy aisle in recent years and seen the dozens of types of non-dairy, nut-based substances whose manufacturers have been side-stepping it.

But now, things are going to change. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced on Tuesday that the agency is starting the process of rewriting their enforcement policies over the next year.  


“If you look at our standard of identity – there is a reference somewhere in the standard of identity to a lactating animal,” he said at a talk hosted by Politico. “And, you know, an almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.”

The promised crackdown is welcome news for the dairy industry, who, as Ars Technica reports, have been complaining for some time that the (mis)labeling of non-dairy milks hurts sales and confuses customers. In fact, a senator from the state of Wisconsin – where license plates are printed with the slogan “America’s Dairyland” due to the high concentration of farms, cheese factories, and creameries – introduced a bill in early 2017 that would make it illegal for the word milk to appear on non-dairy products. But other lawmakers were apparently unmotivated to support the legislation, and nothing came of the proposal.

When addressing how long this shift will take, Gottlieb underscored that soy milk is not going to suddenly appear on the shelves as blended soybean water overnight, but that customers can expect new titles in the near future.

“I can’t just do it unilaterally,” he said. “This is going to take time. It’s not going to take two years, but it probably takes something close to a year to get to go through that process.”


This is good news because hopefully food marketers will be able to come up with more appealing names than we just did.

Marketing research agency Mintel writes that non-dairy milk is increasingly popular in the US. Since 2012, sales have gone up 61 percent; in 2017, manufacturers racked in about $2.11 billion. Almond milk is the strongest seller at 64 percent of the market share, followed by soy (13 percent) and coconut (12 percent). The remainder is rounded out by newer varieties such as cashew, pecan, and quinoa "milk".

All these beverages are made by blending the nut in question in water to emulsify the creamy fats within, then straining out the solids.


healthHealth and Medicine
  • tag
  • soy,

  • coconut,

  • dairy,

  • industry,

  • lactose,

  • cashew,

  • non-dairy,

  • lactose-free,

  • almond