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FDA acts on ‘love’ on granola label, plant ‘milk’ should be next

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The National Milk Producers Federation has pointed out if the FDA has time to take action against a Massachusetts granola maker for listing “love” as an ingredient, then the agency has time and resources to enforce regulations against the use of the term “milk” on the labels of plant-derived dairy imitators.

In a letter to FDA, NMPF pointed out that many of the same criticisms leveled by the agency against Nashoba Brook Bakery’s granola and bread products apply to the manufacturers of plant beverages that are in violation of FDA standards of identity defining milk as the product of a dairy animal.

“While we have no doubt that the folks at Nashoba do indeed put love into the manufacture of their product, we hate to see misleading food labels that don’t comply with legal standards that other companies follow,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

“We hope that the agency’s enforcement action against a small New England baker for misusing food labeling standards, innocuous though this violation might be, is a prelude to FDA taking action against the myriad companies that manufacture hundreds of dairy imitators that also misappropriate federally-defined terms such as ‘milk’ and ‘yogurt,’” NMPF said in its letter to FDA.

In a warning letter sent recently to Nashoba Brook Bakery, FDA cited the company for listing “love” as an ingredient in its granola: “’Love’ is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient,” the letter said.

The FDA letter also warned the Concord, Mass., bakery that its whole wheat bread “fails to conform” to the standard of identity for products made from whole wheat flour: “This product contains wheat flour and corn meal. Therefore, it does not meet the standard of identity for whole wheat bread.”

NMPF has been engaged in on-going efforts to highlight similar deficiencies with the misleading use of the term “milk” on products made from nuts, grains, and seeds, yet “no enforcement activity has taken place,” Mulhern said. He noted that NMPF has provided FDA this year with multiple examples of misbranded imitation dairy foods, mostly recently the artificial dairy beverage Blue Magic Cashew Milk.

“FDA’s labeling enforcement must be consistent. The agency needs to enforce the proper labeling of all products that are currently playing fast and loose with federal food standards,” NMPF wrote the agency. “Any food product that uses a food name established by a standard of identity but does not conform to the essential characteristics established by that standard is by law misbranded (21 U.S.C. §343(g)).”

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