IDFA, NMPF Call for UF Milk in Cheese without Special Labeling
In joint comments filed last Friday, IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) reiterated their request for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow ultrafiltered (UF) milk to be used in cheesemaking without requiring special labeling. The two groups originally filed comments when the agency's proposed rule regarding UF milk was released in 2005, but FDA reopened the comment period last December, seeking additional information on label practicality and consumer perception.
IDFA and NMPF argue in the comments that UF milk, which is milk with the whey stream removed, should remain under the group designation "milk" in the product label ingredient list. Because the whey stream is always removed in traditional cheesemaking, the milk used in the process is exactly the same product as UF milk, and cheese made with UF milk is indistinguishable from cheese made from milk.
"If UF milk were not allowed to be labeled as milk in the ingredient list of cheese, the industry may face millions of dollars of costs to design, store and appropriately use new labels and to store additional versions of cheese," the comments state. "Also, the use of UF milk could be curtailed as companies identify insurmountable logistical problems and decide to restrict use of the ingredient."
The comments also address the issue of consumer perception, saying buyers would be misled if processors were required to label UF milk as a separate ingredient. To support this position, IDFA commissioned consumer research in December 2005 that clearly found such labeling would be confusing to consumers. The study showed consumers mistakenly attributed important differences in taste, healthfulness and quality when comparing cheese product labels with and without FDA's proposed requirements.
"IDFA and NMPF urge FDA to re-evaluate its tentative position on ingredient labeling in the 2005 proposed rule and either determine that ingredient labeling is not called for, or that standardized cheese with UF milk should be exempted from the ingredient labeling requirement. This outcome would promote the adoption of this technology throughout the different types of standard cheeses while providing consumers with a consistent product at an affordable price," the comments conclude.
To read the new comments, click here. To view FDA's notice regarding the reopened comment period, click here. To read the previous comments by IDFA and NMPF, click here.
For more information, contact Michelle Matto, IDFA assistant director of nutrition and labeling, at email@example.com or 202-737-4332.
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Posted April 14, 2008