Commissioner Steve Troxler: FDA May Act Soon on Milk Truth-in-Labeling

Continual efforts are under way to encourage the Food and Drug Administration to take action to enforce truth in labeling on milk products. An NCDA&CS assistant commissioner recently made comments at the FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy Public Meeting urging enforcement and quick action to ensure consumers know what they are purchasing. Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler has more detaisl.

  • Regular listeners know I have been focused recently on the enforcement of federal laws regarding truth in labeling on milk products.
  • I have talked about it publicly, I have met with officials with the FDA and I have worked with legislators regarding state enforcement. Last week I urged the FDA to take quick action on enforcement of the standard of identity for milk.
  • Our dairy farms continue to suffer, while we see more plant-based products on the shelf calling themselves “milk.”
  • I think we may be beginning to see a bit of light on this issue.
  • Recently FDA secretary Scott Gottlieb announced plans to modernize FDA’s standards of identity, which is particularly relevant as more products come on the market that stretch current definitions. For example, does meat being grown in a lab deserve the same name as a product being produced in a field?
  • Technology is moving us in that direction, but what expectation do consumers deserve from the term meat or milk.
  • I was encouraged to see Gottlieb point to a couple of specific cases involving potential health consequences for young children as a catalyst to gauge whether parents are aware of the nutritional differences between cow’s milk and plant-based beverages.
  • Reports of a toddler with rickets, a disease caused by a Vitamin D deficiency, and another case that is a form of severe protein malnutrition in my opinion warrants quick enforcement action by FDA and I have shared my thoughts with Gottlieb on this.
  • In both cases, parents fed the child plant-based beverages in place of cow’s milk.
  • As he noted, some of these products contain only a fraction of the protein or other nutrients found in cow’s milk.
  • We are not asking that these products be removed from the shelf, we simply want them to be labeled as a beverage not milk, which implies an expectation of a certain nutritional content.
  • These nutrients are important to the healthy development of children, so I believe the consequences of misunderstanding what’s in a name is significant when it comes to milk.