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The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) thanked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its announcement that it will extend by 60 days, until Jan. 25, the public comment period during which the agency is seeking information on the proper names for plant-based beverages. The original deadline was Nov. 27.

“It is crucial that all interested parties have adequate time to more fully address FDA’s extensive list of questions about the labeling issue, and why it matters from a nutrition and public health standpoint,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, which has long urged FDA to enforce existing rules on what should and shouldn’t properly be called “milk.” “This extension will allow the dairy community, as well as health professionals, to fully explain why consumers deserve accurate and honest information about their food options.”

A survey conducted by the research firm IPSOS, commissioned by Dairy Management Inc., found that misperceptions were common regarding the nutritional value of true milk versus imitators that are industrially produced by mixing water with small amounts of a plant-based product – along with various whiteners, stabilizers, emulsifiers and other chemical ingredients. For example:

73 percent of consumers believed that almond-based drinks had as much or more protein per serving than milk, even though milk has eight times as much protein.

53 percent said they believed that plant-based food manufacturers labeled their products “milk” because their nutritional value is similar, which is incorrect.

Even research funded by plant-drink processors shows confusion. According to a study from the International Food Information Council Foundation, one-quarter of consumers of coconut, soy and almond beverages either thought that or weren’t sure whether those drinks contained milk.

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