Soy and almond drinks that bill themselves as "milk" may need to consider alternative language after a top regulator suggested the agency may start cracking down on use of the term.
The Food and Drug Administration signaled plans to start enforcing a federal standard that defines "milk" as coming from the "milking of one or more healthy cows." That would be a change for the agency, which has not aggressively gone after the proliferation of plant-based drinks labeled as "milk."
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb talked about the plans this week, noting there are hundreds of federal "standards of identity" spelling out how foods with various names need to be manufactured.
"The question becomes, have we been enforcing our own standard of identity," Gottlieb said about "milk" at the Politico event Tuesday. "The answer is probably not."
A public-relations firm backed by meat producers has unleashed a savage marketing campaign that claims plant-based meat alternatives are unhealthy, "ultra-processed imitations" similar to dog food.
The campaign rolled out in recent weeks from the industry-funded firm Center for Consumer Freedom, according to The New York Times. So far, it has included full-page ads and opinion pieces in mainstream newspapers, including The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. All the marketing material raises health concerns about trendy meat alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger.
One ad posed the question "What's hiding in your plant-based meat?" Another directed readers to take the quiz "Veggie Burger or Dog Food?"
In an op-ed, the managing director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, Will Coggin, labeled meat alternatives as "ultra-processed" foods and noted that a recent study led by the researchers at the National Institutes of Health linked ultra-processed foods to weight gain.
The negative marketing campaign comes amid soaring popularity of meat alternatives, which threaten to slice into the meat market's sales and profits. In recent months, big players in the meat industry had tried a different—some might say hypocritical—tactic to compete with the new comers—that is, they released their own lines of meat alternatives. Now, the industry wants consumers to think such alternatives are unhealthy.
Previously: U.S. Cattlemen's Association Wants an Official Definition of "Meat"
Regulation Coming to Lab-Grown Meat
FDA Approves Impossible Burger "Heme" Ingredient; Still Wants to Regulate "Cultured Meat"
Missouri Regulates Use of the Word "Meat" by Food Producers
Following IPO of Beyond Meat, Tyson Foods Plans Launch of its Own Meatless Products
Mississippi Bans Calling Plant and Cultured-Meat Patties 'Burgers'
Related: Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021
FDA May Force Rebranding of Soy, Almond, et al. "Milks"
Meatless "Beyond Burgers" Come to Fast Food Restaurants
Beef Trimmings Dubbed 'Pink SLIME' Can Now be Labelled 'Ground Beef'
No Need to Cut Down Red and Processed Meat, Study Says
Missouri has prohibited producers of meat alternatives, such as lab-grown/cultured meat and plant-based fake meats, from using the term "meat" to describe products not derived from harvested livestock or poultry:
On Tuesday, Missouri becomes the first state in the country to have a law on the books that prohibits food makers to use the word "meat" to refer to anything other than animal flesh. This takes aim at manufacturers of what has been dubbed fake or non-traditional meat. Clean meat -- also known as lab-grown meat -- is made of cultured animal tissue cells, while plant-based meat is generally from ingredients such as soy, tempeh and seitan.
The state law forbids "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry." Violators may be fined $1,000 and imprisoned for a year.
[...] The Missouri Cattlemen's Association, which worked to get the state law passed, has cited shopper confusion and protecting local ranchers as reasons for the legislation. "The big issue was marketing with integrity and...consumers knowing what they're getting," said Missouri Cattlemen's Association spokesman Mike Deering. "There's so much unknown about this."
Turtle Island Foods, which makes "Tofurky", has sued the state: