The Food and Drug Administration has stayed certain parts of a rule issued last year amending the standard of identity for yogurt in response to objections filed by the International Dairy Foods Association and yogurt maker Chobani.

With the publication of a Federal Register notice scheduled for Wednesday, FDA removed a minimum acidity requirement and a maximum pH requirement and made other changes.

IDFA objected to the acidity and pH requirements “because it is simply not practical for flavored yogurts and does not reflect consumer taste preferences or current industry practice in the U.S. and internationally,” the group said last July. The requirement to achieve the target pH before adding bulky flavorings “will result in significant industry disruption,” the association said. 

At the time, Joseph Scimeca, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs at IDFA, said FDA had relied on comments “submitted 12 or more years ago to formulate its final rule — as if technology has not progressed or as if the yogurt making process itself has been trapped in amber like a prehistoric fossil.”

Other provisions of the rule that have been stayed include a requirement that yogurt, before the addition of bulky flavoring ingredients, contains no less than 3.25% milkfat; a prohibition on adding pasteurized cream after culturing; the exclusion of ultrafiltered milk from the basic dairy ingredients; the limitation on the use of sweeteners to nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners, and the requirement that vitamin D, if added, “must be present in such quantity that the food contains not less than 25 percent [Daily Value] per [reference amount customarily consumed], within limits of current good manufacturing practices.”

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Reacting to FDA's notice, IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes said "while a stay is helpful at this stage, IDFA’s efforts to reform the yogurt SOI will continue into an inexplicable fifth decade."

Dykes added, "Because the 1981 yogurt SOI final rule remains in effect, the stays themselves do not necessarily allow yogurt to be formulated in a way consistent with IDFA’s proposed modifications to the rules."

"FDA has not yet determined whether it will grant a hearing or make any modifications to the final rule," which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024, IDFA said. 

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