making a difference for dairy

Labeling & Standards

IDFA provides comprehensive information to members on a wide variety of issues related to dairy product labeling claims and federal standards of identity. In this section, you'll find guidance regarding international, federal and local labeling rules on food health claims, nutrition content, trans fat, compositional claims and food allergens.

This section also details IDFA's efforts to modernize the federal standards of identity and the petitions that are pending with the Food and Drug Administration regarding updates to standards for dairy products.

Recent Highlights

Protecting Member Rights to Label

In a victory for IDFA and members, the state of Ohio agreed to drop its regulations for dairy product labels that exceeded federal guidelines for absence claims. This action comes more than three years after IDFA filed a lawsuit against the state to protect members' rights to label truthfully. Ohio's labeling regulation, instituted in 2008 by executive order, limited label information provided to consumers and interfered with dairy companies’ First Amendment right to commercial free speech. Ohio’s abandonment of the rule came as part of the settlement of the litigation with IDFA and the Organic Trade Association.

While under consideration, the lawsuit accomplished three additional goals:

    1. Several other states pulled proposed bills restricting absence claims while the lawsuit was pending;
    2. Other efforts proposing restrictive labeling were tamped down before they reached state legislators, regulators and courts in other states;
    3. Producers and processors adapted to new marketing conditions, making new legislation and litigation less likely.

FDA Rejects Use 'Corn Sugar' as Name for HFCS

In 2010, the Corn Refiners Association filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to authorize the use of "corn sugar" as a common alternate name for high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. After 20 months of consideration and review, FDA denied the request in 2012, saying the petition did not provide sufficient grounds for the change.

IDFA and members have followed the progress of the petition, including a supplemental filing by the Corn Refiners Association last summer, because many dairy companies use sugar and high fructose corn syrup in products ranging from flavored milk and yogurt to ice cream and other frozen desserts.

Communicating to Consumers

IDFA was a strong supporter of a final rule that gives milk and dairy processors a powerful tool to tout the role that calcium and Vitamin D together play in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. IDFA worked hard to encourage FDA to simplify product label information and make it more friendly to consumers.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission agreed to allow processors to continue to use scientific information, such as emerging research on health and nutrition, in marketing and on labels for products sold in countries that use the international standards. IDFA worked hard to gain this exemption from a new standard definition of labeling that includes commercial communications.

Encouraging Innovation

IDFA welcomed the release of a proposed rule that would change the outdated standards of identity for yogurt. For years, IDFA stressed the need to modernize the standards so they could accommodate new technology for food ingredients and processing methods, as well as consumer preferences.

IDFA successfully protected milk's image in schools by advocating that beverage substitutes in school feeding programs must meet the nutritional value of milk. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the programs, included this language in its final rule.

IDFA effectively opposed a petition for a restrictive gelato standard in California that would have stifled product innovation and development, as well as interstate commerce.

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