The 2013 National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) was held April 19-24 in Indianapolis. Conference attendees considered 63 proposals, with state delegates passing 35, including one from IDFA seeking to clarify the information that companies must provide to affirm that a non-Grade “A” dairy ingredient meets the criteria of use “for a functional or technical effect” in Grade “A” milk and milk products.
With efforts by nearly 120 IDFA members and cooperation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state regulators and other parts of the dairy industry, IDFA advocated for reasonable regulations in the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) that enhance food safety and encourage trade. Changes at the NCIMS Conference are applicable to Grade “A” dairy farms, processing plants and milk products. Members may login below to read a complete summary of the Conference.
International Program Becomes Official
Taking an important step that will remove market barriers for trade agreements, the conference delegates agreed to incorporate the International Certification Program as an official part of the Grade “A” program. This program, which ran for six years as a pilot program, allows international dairy processing companies to use third-party inspectors to implement the regulations of the PMO for export of Grade “A” dairy products to the United States.
State delegates representing public health and agriculture department officials narrowly turned down a proposal that would have reduced the maximum allowable level of somatic cell counts in milk. Both IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) advocated for the change to align U.S. standards with European requirements for exporting dairy products.
Conference members also agreed to modify the regulations for aseptic Grade “A” milk and milk products to include low-acid milk and milk products that are retorted, or sterilized, after packaging. However, they did not pass the proposal and resolution by NMPF that asked FDA and state regulatory agencies to increase enforcement on imitation products using the names “milk” or other milk products, “yogurt” or “cream” in their labeling.
Many Questions About FSMA
Attendees representing industry and regulatory agencies had many questions about the pending implementation of regulations for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and its impact on current PMO regulations and methods of inspections. Dr. Jenny Scott, a senior advisor from FDA, presented information on the impact of the proposed Preventive Controls rule on the PMO and Grade “A” milk program. She urged all interested parties to submit comments to FDA.
In hopes that FDA will consider the existing programs sufficient and eliminate the need to duplicate regulatory schemes, the delegates passed a resolution asking the NCIMS Liaison Committee to provide a comparison of the Interstate Milk Shipments regulations with FSMA and submit comments demonstrating comparable levels of public health protection.
“Of the approximately 320 attendees at the 2013 NCIMS Conference, 113 staff from 52 IDFA member companies attended and provided valuable assistance to IDFA staff,” said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs and NCIMS program chair. “IDFA staff coordinated pre-conference member-strategy conference calls and meetings and conducted outreach to individual state regulators. We also met with others in the dairy industry and FDA dairy staff.”
During the conference, IDFA members and staff held numerous scheduled and ad-hoc meetings, as well as many informal meetings with state and FDA representatives. In addition, IDFA staff and members worked cooperatively with NMPF staff and members to present a united industry front on most key issues.
“These actions resulted in a successful NCIMS Conference for the entire dairy industry and state and federal regulatory officials,” said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, who attended the meeting along with Frye and Michelle Matto, IDFA’s nutrition and labeling consultant.
FDA is now reviewing the proposals approved at the conference, and the NCIMS Executive Board will meet with FDA in September to finalize them. FDA will publish a 2013 version of the PMO and other conference documents with the changes in early 2014. The finalized proposals will take effect in October 2014, one year after FDA publishes the conference proceedings (IMS-a-47), unless other effective dates for individual proposals have been established.
For more information, contact Frye at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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