Non-Dairy Legal Definition

This week, a group of 32 members of Congress, many from major milk-producing states, came to Briczinski`s aid. They wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration urging the FDA to ask plant-based beverage manufacturers to come up with another name. Democratic Representative Peter Welch of Vermont, co-author of the letter, points out that the FDA already has a legal definition of milk and that „FDA regulations define milk as something that originates from a mammary gland. So, basically, we are asking the FDA to enforce its own regulations. The FDA eventually withdrew its official definition of non-dairy products, but it still has a general position on what that means. An FDA representative gave us the following „non-dairy response” in 2019. It seems like a simple question, and there is a simple answer. But there are many reasons why people can be confused, especially as marketing vocabulary and product development grow. So, what is dairy-free? Let`s start with some basic definitions: Contrary to the FDA`s formulation in its response above, most products labeled as „non-dairy” are actually dairy-free with no ingredients.

Many companies choose to use the term non-dairy instead of dairy-free for a variety of reasons. Some say this label is more familiar and less intimidating to consumers. Others fear being held liable by the use of a term „free from” of any kind. Webster`s dictionary has two definitions of milk: „a liquid secreted by the mammary glands of women to feed their young” and „a food product made from seeds or fruits similar to cow`s milk and used in the same way.” The cow`s milk industry claims that the definition of milk is mutually exclusive and that the former is the true definition of milk. They argue that because the first definition is the true definition of milk, plant-based milk is just imitations and the FDA as such should prohibit plant-based milk producers from using the „milk” label on their products. My friend is milk intolerant, but she solves the problem by making her own dairy-free milk, which she learned on this site. According to her, rice milk is the best and she knows that there is no cross-contamination or traces of dairy products in her milk. By formal definition, yes, but usually in practice. According to the Oxford definition of non-dairy products, „does not contain milk or dairy products.” It corresponds to dairy free.

However, due to previous FDA regulations, some foods that actually contain milk are labeled as non-dairy. To be clear, most „dairy-free” foods are dairy-free, but there are a handful that are not. For more information, see our non-dairy definition. The definitions may be simple, but there are many other terms that can be interpreted correctly or incorrectly as dairy-free. I`ll cover this and a more detailed definition of no dairy based on frequently asked questions. People with milk allergies and parents of consumers with milk allergies should be a little cautious when using foods labeled as dairy-free or dairy-free. These terms can appear quite prominently on food packaging labels. However, these terms should not be used as abbreviations to verify the indication of ingredients on the package label. By the way, many food industry professionals would agree that the FDA`s regulation for the term non-dairy is ridiculous. However, amending the regulations that currently exist in the Code of Federal Regulations is a lengthy and tedious process. Of course, Webster`s dictionary is not a legal authority when it comes to the meaning of words. The legal definition of milk is as follows: „Milk is the secretion of virtually colostrum-free milk obtained by complete milking of one or more healthy cows, which can be eliminated and balanced by separating part of the fat; condensed milk, reconstituted milk and whole milk powder.

Water can be added in sufficient quantities to restore concentrated, dry forms. So far, the FDA`s application of „dairy” labeling has been inconsistent with the legal definition. The FDA has authorized products other than cows and plant products to use the milk descriptor for their products. The cow`s milk industry has been urging the FDA for several decades to enforce the definition more strictly. The dairy industry claims that cow`s milk has a distinct nutritional profile than plant-based milk. They are technically correct, as no plant substitute contains exactly the same nutrient content as cow`s milk. The dairy industry argues that the use of the word „milk” is confusing for consumers and that all milk must have a standardized nutrient profile and that those that do not adhere to this profile should be referred to as imitator milk. We do not have a definition of [non-dairy] in our food labelling regulations.

However, we do not consider the terms „dairy-free” and „dairy-free” to be equivalent. We interpreted the term „dairy-free” to mean the complete absence of all milk components, including lactose, etc. The term „non-dairy products” refers to products such as dairy-free milk and milk-free bleaching, which may contain a milk caseinate derivative. While the terms dairy-free and dairy-free can be confusing, the sure way to find the right product is to read the ingredient list. FDA regulations require that product labeling be truthful and not misleading. This means that the ingredient label includes the actual ingredients of the product, regardless of the terms used on the label before. By definition, „not” means „not,” so we assume that a non-dairy product would not contain dairy products. Unfortunately, this is not always the case due to confusing labeling authorized by the FDA. Non-dairy products certainly do not mean that the product is dairy-free.

FDA regulations explicitly allow the use of caseinates (and casein is one of the main milk allergens) in non-dairy products.