FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb may have come up with the greatest tagline since “White Men Don’t Jump.” Gottlieb has announced that the agency is considering blocking the use of the term “almond milk” because “an almond doesn’t lactate.”
Gottlieb explained to Politico that the use of the label violates the “standard of identity” policy that regulates how milk is defined and should be identified. “If you look at our standard of identity—there is a reference somewhere in the standard of identity to a lactating animal. And, you know, an almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess.”
Of course neither does soy or rice, However, the milk industry has moved aggressively to get the Trump Administration to crack down on its competition. Their lobbyists appear to be succeeding. Gottlieb admits that the agency has not been enforcing its policiers on product makers but has suddenly decided to do so.
Notably, in July 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed in New York against Blue Diamond Growers and White Wave Foods for false advertising not because of the use of the term milk but the almond part. The challengers alleged that only two percent of the products are from almonds. A judge however tossed the challenge.
The shift to “Strained Almond Pulp beverage” or some other market name does not seem appealing.
Few people confuse almond milk with cow milk. It has the consistency and appearance of milk.
Does this mean if the almond milk producers use female employees they would meet the definition?
More importantly, Oxford defines milk as including such products as coconut milk.
Here is the definition from Merriam-Webster:
a : a fluid secreted by the mammary glands of females for the nourishment of their youngb (1) : milk from an animal and especially a cow used as food by people
(2) : a food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and is used similarly to cow’s milk
- coconut milk
- soy milk
2: a liquid resembling milk in appearance: such asa : the latex of a plantb : the contents of an unripe kernel of grain
But, he admitted, curtailing the wording of non-moo juice labeling isn’t an easy task because it means that the agency has to change its “regulatory posture.”
So common parlance and forma dictionaries recognize non-lactated milk but the FDA will adopt this narrow definition? It speaks more of the power and manna of lobbyists in Washington than logic or the law.
What do you think?