The International Dairy Foods Assn. (IDFA) commended the leadership of the Food & Drug Administration for granting enforcement discretion for the use and labeling of ultrafiltered (UF) milk in all standardized cheeses and related cheese products covered by the federal standards of identity.
UF milk is milk that has been filtered to remove some of the water and lactose, which increases the protein content while reducing total fluid volume. The use of UF milk increases efficiency in cheese-making, enhances cheese yield for cheese-makers and may reduce the number of trucks on the roads, which reduces transportation costs. It is also responsive to many dairy consumers’ desire for environmentally friendly and sustainable production practices.
Until now, U.S. cheese-makers have been allowed to use UF milk in only a few standardized cheeses, but labeling requirements were complex. At the same time, a rule has been pending at FDA that supports the use of UF milk in all standardized cheeses, but it also includes impractical labeling requirements.
In the notice in the Federal Register, FDA said while it completes rule-making to revise labeling requirements, it will exercise enforcement discretion regarding the declaration of UF milk and nonfat UF milk ingredients when used in standardized cheeses and related cheese products. This will allow the cheese industry to use UF milk more widely and will streamline the existing complex labeling requirements. This guidance will not affect the use and labeling of UF milk in fluid milk and other dairy products.
“Today’s action by FDA falls squarely within the philosophy of the current Administration to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens,” IDFA president and chief executive officer Michael Dykes said. “After lagging for more than two decades, it is good to see the regulations on the use of UF milk are catching up with this safe and sustainable production technology, which is already used around the world.”
IDFA will work with FDA as it accepts input on a final rule that will allow the use of UF milk in all cheeses.
IDFA, based in Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of nearly 525 companies within a $125 billion-a-year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation, the National Cheese Institute and the International Ice Cream Assn. IDFA's nearly 200 dairy processing members operate more than 600 manufacturing facilities and range from large multinational organizations to single-plant companies. Together, they represent more than 85% of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the U.S.