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Fewer than 10 percent of US consumers believe that plant-based milks contain any dairy products, according to new research by the International Food Information Council (IFFC).

The study shows that a further 75 percent know the vegan products do not contain cow’s milk, and the remaining respondents are not sure.

The IFCC says these results show ‘a low level of consumer confusion over nomenclature and basic differences between the two’.

Vegan labels

This is significant, as the US dairy lobby wants to ban plant-based producers from using dairy-related words on their products, claiming this can mislead consumers into accidentally buying vegan products instead of traditional dairy.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently looking at this food labeling, and wants to ask the public for its understanding of terms like milk and cheese when used on vegan products.

“We’re carefully assessing products currently on the market to determine whether any have misleading labels that would prompt us to take action to ensure that consumers are not under the misconception that their plant-based beverage is a dairy product in disguise,” said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Vegan milk

The Good Food Institute (GFI), an independent, non-profit devoted to creating a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply, waded into the row over whether plant-milks should be labeled ‘imitation’ milk earlier this year.

GFI’s Attorney, Nigel Barrella, added: “The dairy industry’s argument is not just an absurd distortion of the law, but it also would violate the First Amendment.

“Food producers have free speech rights too, and the Government cannot force them to use vague and derogatory names like ‘imitation milk’.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.