IDFA Vice Presidents Cary Frye (pictured) and Allen Sayler represented the interests of the global dairy industry at key International Dairy Federation committee meetings last month in Berlin. The meetings, held in conjunction with the World Dairy Summit, allowed committee members from around the globe to discuss issues related to nutrition labeling, food additives and standards of identity.
"IDF is actively evaluating proposed regulations for nutrition labeling being advanced by the World Heath Organization to provide clear consistent labeling to help consumers make healthy choices," said Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs and vice chair of the IDF Standing Committee on Food Labeling.
"Our participation is critical to advocate for changes that will closely align with U.S. labeling regulations and not result in different labels or claims for U.S. dairy product exports."
The WHO proposes to develop international guidelines on mandatory nutrition labeling similar to the Nutrition Facts panel used in the United States. While most committee members support this effort, they decided to request exemptions that would allow refillable containers to use alternatives to printed nutrition labeling.
The members also reviewed strategy for amending current international standards to permit the use of standard product names in conjunction with a comparative claim or a nutrient content claim on the label of a modified standardized food, such as reduced-fat cheese or sugar-free jams. And they developed positions to request that trans fat or ruminant versions of trans fatty acids be omitted from nutrition labeling and to declare added sugars only, rather than total sugars.
IDF will forward these positions to several electronic working groups within the Codex Committee on Food Labeling for further review. The Codex committee has the authority to request changes before the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international standards board that meets each summer.
Food Additives and Standards of Identity
Allen Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, serves as vice chair of the IDF Standing Committee on Food Additives. This committee discussed its progress on reconciling current inconsistencies between the Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GFSA) and the Codex dairy standards.
"We completed our review of the two sets of guidelines and formally identified the differences. The next step is to determine a recommended solution that can be put forth in time for the Codex Milk and Milk Products Committee meeting in February," Sayler said.
Sayler also attended the IDF Standards of Identity Committee meeting, where members discussed two issues of importance to U.S. dairy processors: process cheese standards and fermented milk drinks. The committee recommended discontinuing efforts to revise the current Codex standards for process cheese rather than updating them.
"We support this position, because no international trade issues with process cheese exist, and we can better spend our time on other issues," Sayler said.
The committee also discussed finalizing language for the Codex standard for fermented milk drinks, such as smoothies, and resolving issues about the amount of milk or milk ingredients that must be included. Although IDFA and its members believe the proper amount is 40 percent, a few committee members are pushing for 50 percent. The decision will be made next year by the Codex Milk and Milk Products Committee.
Codex decisions on standards can have a significant impact on IDFA members that export dairy products, since many Codex standards are often adopted by importing countries and are used to resolve World Trade Organization disputes.
IDFA's International Standards Task Force will hold a conference call October 23 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time to discuss Codex issues related to food additives, process cheese, fermented milk drinks and food labeling. The task force plans to finalize comments on these issues for submission to delegates at IDF and U.S. government agencies. For more information, contact Sayler at 202-220-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.