FDA grants enforcement discretion for the use of UF milk in cheeses
The Food and Drug Administration issued a rule to be published in the Federal Register which grants enforcement discretion for the use and labeling of ultrafiltered milk in all standardized cheeses and related cheese products covered by the federal standards of identity.
International Dairy Foods Association described UF milk as “milk that has been filtered to remove some of the water and lactose, which increases the protein content while reducing total fluid volume.”
The move was praised by the IDFA, and the National Milk Producers Federation supported the move, but couldn’t comment regarding the text itself.
“On behalf of our member companies, I would like to thank Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner, and Stephen Ostroff, deputy commissioner of food and veterinary medicine, for taking a commonsense approach to a long-standing regulatory burden on dairy foods companies,” said IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes.
IDFA represents the processing industry.
A spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents dairy farmers, said, “NMPF has been supportive of the use of liquid ultrafiltered milk in the manufacture of standardized cheeses in the past, so FDA’s issuance of this new guidance is a positive first step. However, we have not yet reviewed the document in its entirety, and need to complete that task before commenting further.”
The notice from the FDA stated the intention to issue a rule regarding the use of UF milk in the production of cheese and the agency will exercise “enforcement discretion” regarding UF use and labeling in the meantime.
“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.”
According to the IDFA, only a few standardized cheeses can use UF milk in the U.S., but there are “complex labeling requirements.”
“Today’s action by FDA falls squarely within the philosophy of the current administration to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens,” 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.”
Ultrafiltered milk, a relatively new dairy product, is also the subject of a trade dispute between the United States and Canada.
U.S. dairy producers, particularly in Wisconsin, have been exporting ultrafiltered milk to Canada because it is so new it was not covered under the restrictions in the North American Free Trade Agreement but Canada has recently taken steps that make it harder for American producers to compete in the Canadian market. The issue is expected to be part of the NAFTA renegotiation that starts Aug. 16.