The International Dairy Foods Association today commended the leadership of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 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.
“On behalf of our member companies, I would like to thank Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner, and Stephen Ostroff, M.D., deputy commissioner of food and veterinary medicine, for taking a common-sense approach to a long-standing regulatory burden on dairy foods companies,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO.
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 cheesemaking, enhances cheese yield for cheesemakers and allows for fewer 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. cheesemakers have been allowed to use UF milk in only a few standardized cheeses, but with complex labeling requirements. 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 that while it completes rulemaking 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,” said Dykes. “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.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), 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 (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's nearly 200 dairy processing members operate more than 600 manufacturing facilities and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.