FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the Trump administration is preparing to crack down on soy and almond products calling themselves “milk.”
“An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess,” said Gottlieb, speaking at the Politico Pro Summit. Yet despite the Food and Drug Administration’s position on milk as a product of lactating animals, the dairy industry has been struggling as alternative sources gain popularity.
Milk prices are dropping, and oversupply has become a global concern. Between 2015, sales declined by a whopping 13%—and the value of 100 pounds of organic milk went from $40 in early 2016 to about $27 by late 2017. Meanwhile, soy and almond “milks” are soaring in popularity, increasingly viewed as a healthier alternative to bovine products. Coconut, pecan, quinoa, hazelnut, and flax milks are also on the rise.
In 2017, Wisconsin Democrat Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced a bill that would ban non-dairy products from using the word “milk,” but failed to gain any significant support. And while dairy farmers have repeatedly petitioned for tighter standards on advertising non-milk products, the FDA has not addressed the concern until now.
Gottlieb claims that the FDA will reach out to the public before making a decision, but that the process will not be instantaneous. “This is going to take time,” he said. “It’s not going to take two years, but it probably takes something close to a year to get to go through that process.”
Meanwhile, non-dairy milks are enjoying a 61% five-year growth, and the trend shows no signs of slowing—let alone stopping. That might be good for America’s collective waistline, but it has left many dairy farmers crying over spilled milk.