In comments submitted last week to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, IDFA opposed the proposed adoption of a new and narrowly worded standard of identity for gelato sold in the state. The petition for a new standard, submitted by Gelateria Naia, appears aimed at excluding gelato products with fat content that is higher or lower than the company's own gelato.
Responding on behalf of members of the International Ice Cream Association, IDFA warned that adopting such a restrictive standard would stifle product innovation and development, as well as interstate commerce.
"Due to diversity of composition and manufacturing techniques of gelato in this country, it would be inappropriate for the state of California to enact a standard for gelato that would exclude products currently sold in the market from being labeled as gelato," the comments state. "Furthermore, as no other state has a standard for gelato, establishing even a temporary standard in California could have the impact of excluding products from the California market and interfering with interstate commerce."
Gelato, which is also known as "Italian-style ice cream," does not have a federal standard of identity. Each manufacturer's product contains varying levels of dairy ingredients, fat, solids, egg yolk solids and fresh fruits, chocolate or other flavorings. IICA members currently selling gelato, ice cream and other frozen desserts in California include Ciao Bella, Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, Galloway Company, Unilever and Wells Blue Bunny.
According to the state's agricultural code, the department may grant a temporary standard for one year for a new milk product or product resembling a milk product. After determining that the Gelateria Naia petition satisfied the necessary requirements, the department held a public hearing and accepted comments.
By law, the California Department of Food and Agriculture must notify Gelateria Naia no later than 30 days following the close of the comment period. The decision will be reported in a future issue of News Update.
For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3543.