Research reveals US consumers’ knowledge of non-dairy products

Around three-quarters of Americans understand that plant-based milk does not actually contain cow’s milk, according to a new study by the International Food Information Council.

The research revealed that fewer than 10% of US consumers believe that plant-based milks contain cow’s milk.

In total, 90% of respondents know that products labelled whole milk contain cow’s milk. Large majorities of respondents understand that products labelled chocolate milk (85%), non-fat milk (78%) and skim milk (74%) contain cow’s milk, although that number falls to 48% for lactose-free milk.

The study comes weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is on a fast track to look at the labelling of food and beverages that are being sold as substitutes for dairy products.

The FDA now seeks help from US consumers on how dairy-free products should be labelled through a request for information. It has asked the public to respond to questions such as: “What is your understanding of dairy terms like milk, yogurt and cheese when they are used to label plant-based products?” and “Do you understand the nutritional characteristics of plant-based products?”

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said: “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.”

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