WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2017 – The Food and Drug Administration says it will ease enforcement of restrictions on the use of ultrafiltered milk (UF) in standardized cheeses, noting recent developments in the export market have caused “an oversupply and pricing challenges” with UF.
The FDA, in a notice to be published in Monday's Federal Register, pointed out that Canada earlier this year adopted a pricing policy that encourages Canadian dairies to buy domestically produced UF, a milk protein concentrate used in cheese-making to increase yields. The Agriculture Department says U.S. dairies, mostly in Wisconsin, New York and Minnesota, shipped over $100 million worth of UF to Canada last year, but exports have virtually evaporated since the new Canadian policy was implemented. Dairy is one of the topics that is expected to be addressed in the NAFTA renegotiations set to begin in next week in Washington.
The International Dairy Food Association said that until now, U.S. cheesemakers have been allowed to use UF milk in only a few standardized cheeses, and only with complex labeling requirements. At the same time, IDFA explained in a release, 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 its notice, FDA said that while it completes rulemaking, 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. The guidance will not affect the use and labeling of UF milk in fluid milk and other dairy products.
Michael Dykes, IDFA’s president and CEO, thanked FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Stephen Ostroff, the agency’s deputy commissioner of food and veterinary medicine, for taking what he called a “common-sense approach to a long-standing burden on dairy food companies.”
“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 said it will work with FDA as it accepts input on a final rule that will allow the use of UF milk in all cheeses.
Here’s what the FDA says in its notice:
“The guidance advises manufacturers who wish to use ultrafiltered milk or ultrafiltered nonfat milk in the production of standardized cheeses and related cheese products that, pending completion of a rulemaking regarding the use of UF milk in the production of these products, we intend to exercise enforcement discretion regarding the use of fluid UF milk and fluid UF nonfat milk in the production of standardized cheeses and related cheese products. We also intend to exercise enforcement discretion regarding the declaration of ingredients in the labeling of standardized cheeses and related cheese products when fluid UF milk and fluid UF nonfat milk are used as ingredients.”