In a review of the FDA’s draft guidance on the Labeling of Plant-based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements, Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI) Global, an organization leading the way in soy and health research, communications, and regulatory affairs, praises the decision to allow the continued use of “soymilk.”
The following points detail why this decision is in the best interest of U.S. consumers:
- Soymilk is an established term in the United States. Soymilk was first made in Northern China as early as AD 25. Over the past 70 years, hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific and medical articles on soymilk have been published. As sales and consumption of soymilk steadily increased around the world, standards for its composition and labeling have been adopted in many countries. Soymilk has long been available in the U.S. market as a shelf-stable product, and since 1996, as refrigerated soymilk.
- The term “soymilk” does not confuse consumers. Soymilk is not a misleading term and use of the term soymilk is not a violation of the milk standard. According to a recent survey, 75% of consumers reported they understand that soymilk does not contain cow’s milk.
- Soymilk is referenced in official government materials. As far back as 1977, the USDA listed the nutritive values of various soyfood products including soymilk. Most recently, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognized “fortified soy beverages (soy milk)” are the only suitable alternative to dairy.
- Soymilk offers protein, calcium, and vitamin D comparable to cow’s milk and has similar meal use. Milk is best known for the protein (~8 g/cup), calcium (~300 mg/cup), and vitamin D (~100 IU/cup) it provides. One reason soymilk has been designated as the only plant-based alternative to cow’s milk is because its protein content is similar to cow’s milk. In fact, the USDA database includes soymilks that provide ≥8 g protein per serving (e.g., FDC ID: 1357686). In addition to providing similar amounts of protein, soy protein — like dairy protein — is a high-quality protein and has been recognized by the FDA for its heart health benefits. Also, and most importantly, the calcium from calcium-fortified soymilk is absorbed as well as the calcium is from cow’s milk. Finally, like cow’s milk, most soymilk sold in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines include soy beverages and soy yogurt alternatives that are fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D in the Dairy Group because they have similar nutrient compositions and use in meals.
Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI) Global is a 501(c)(6) non-profit corporation that funds research and shares evidence-based information on the impact of soybeans and soy ingredients for human health and nutrition. For more information about the Soy Nutrition Institute Global, visit www.SNIGlobal.org.
United Soybean Board checkoff funding is not used to influence government action and policy.