Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has called on the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the standard of identity for milk and require proper labeling of plant-based beverages as part of comments made recently at FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy Public Meeting.
Assistant Commissioner for Consumer Protection Joe Reardon made comments on behalf of the department at the open meeting, in which he highlighted an existing FDA definition of milk and a recognized standard of identity for milk.
In advocating for enforcement, Reardon said “without enforcement of the law as written, the validity of all standards of identity is compromised. Uniformity and consistency of enforcement are hallmarks of an effective regulatory program.”
Troxler said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s comments citing examples of the potential health consequences for young children warrants more immediate action.
In a July 26 statement, Gottlieb noted that “case reports show that feeding rice-based beverages to young children resulted in a disease called kwashiorkor, a form of severe protein malnutrition. There has also been a case report of a toddler being diagnosed with rickets, a disease caused by Vitamin D deficiency, after parents used a soy-based alternative to cow’s milk.”
As part of efforts to modernized FDA’s standards of identity, Gottlieb said it plans to gauge whether parents are aware of the nutritional differences between cow’s milk and plant-based beverages, as “some of these products contain only a fraction of the protein or other nutrients found in cow’s milk.”