International company Danone took a pro-plant-based stance this week in the ongoing debate regarding milk labeling procedures in the United States. Last week, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb backed the proposal of restricting items labeled as “milk” to those that are produced from the lactal secretions of mammals, stating that “an almond doesn’t lactate” during a live discussion hosted by Politico. “In the United States, ‘soy milk,’ ‘almond milk’ and ‘coconut milk’ are the common and usual names for plant-based products under the current meaning of FDA regulation, and we communicate on our products with clear references,” Michael Neuwirth, the senior director of external communications at Danone North America, told media outlet Westword. “Dairy and plant-based products are clearly labeled with nutrition facts so people know what’s in the products and can choose the ones that best fit their dietary needs and preferences. We do not believe further labeling standards are necessary.” In 2016, Danone acquired WhiteWave Foods—the parent company of plant-based brands Silk, So Delicious, Vega, and Alpro—for $12.5 billion, and announced plans last month to add plant-based yogurt options to its Activia and Actimel lines. Figures released last week by Cargill—a company that produces animal feed for the meat and dairy industry—revealed that the consumption of animal-based milk has been in steady decline for more than a decade, plummeting by 22 percent between 2006 and 2016, while plant-based milk consumption sales have tripled from 2000 to 2016. The FDA will hold a hearing on July 26 to gather public comments on the matter.
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