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February 6, 2018

US dairy product makers call for regulatory reforms


A US association of dairy food companies has urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to overhaul regulations covering dairy product manufacturing, including modernising "outdated" standards of identity for dairy products.

In comments filed in response to the FDA's request to identify regulations that foods manufacturers believe should be repealed, replaced or modified, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said that many of the 300 identity standards for foods across 20 broad categories that establish defining characteristics and describe processing parameters, permitted ingredients and compositional requirements were outdated and did not reflect current processing technology.

They also did not provide the much-needed flexibility for future technological advancement, it added.

"Reviewing and revising the existing standards of identity would provide more flexibility, allow for new ingredient uses and reflect current and future technological advances", said Cary Frye, IDFA senior vice president for regulatory affairs.

"Each of the proposed changes will provide dairy processors with greater flexibility, the ability to create more innovative products and continue to meet consumer expectations".

IDFA highlighted 10 dairy product identity standards that require modernisation and modification including standards for cheese, ice cream, milk and yogurt.

IDFA also asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to:

-- revise overly burdensome regulations under the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA); and

-- extend the compliance date for the revised Nutrition Facts label.

'Overly burdensome' provisions

IDFA described several provisions in the FSMA as overly burdensome, including the intentional adulteration rule, supply-chain requirements for co-packers and written assurances requirements. It said they needed revisions.

"FSMA regulations represent a paradigm shift in how food is regulated in the US to protect consumers from foodborne illness outbreaks, and our members are dedicated to ensuring that their products are safe, wholesome and nutritious", said Frye.

"Now that all of the major FSMA regulations have been promulgated, it is clear that in many instances there are duplicative and unnecessary requirements".

IDFA—which is the umbrella organisation for the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA)—also asked FDA to extend the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts label and Serving Size final rule to July 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales, and until July 1, 2021, for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales.

The extension would allow dairy companies to properly manage label changes and significantly reduce costs to food companies and consumers, it explained.

"While IDFA greatly appreciated and supported FDA's initial extension of the Nutrition Facts labelling compliance date, IDFA believes that additional time is needed to align the labelling compliance date as closely as possible with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) bioengineered food disclosure standard", Frye said.  Rick Alberto


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