Lawmakers concerned about imitation animal products

January 5, 2023

Congressional authors of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2023 budget told the agency to research consumers’ beliefs about plant-based foods that are marketed with the names of animal products such as eggs.

In the explanatory statement accompanying the 2023 appropriation bill that funds FDA, USDA and other agencies, lawmakers said they are “concerned about the increase of products that are labeled and marketed using animal food product terminology and related iconography…” It is a violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act to misbrand a food, which can occur if the product is labeled with the name of another food that has a standard of identity, or (as in the case of eggs) misappropriating a “common or usual name.” However, FDA often has left such rules unenforced.

The explanatory Congressional statement does not have the force of law, but agencies typically follow instructions in such legislative documents since the authors hold the purse strings for agency budgets. The statement says FDA should “better understand consumers’ attitudes, beliefs, motivations, and perceptions relative to product composition, health attributes, and labeling and report back to the [Appropriation] Committees within one year…”

The explanatory statement can be viewed here. The statement on plant-based animal food imitators is on page 51. The FDA is working on two guidance documents, one on dairy and a second on other animal-based foods, that are expected to clarify how plant-based products can be labeled.