In her luncheon speech at the annual Wisconsin Dairy Products Symposium last week, Connie Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA, said that dairy is a strong, healthy industry, but operating “in the midst of a really crazy world.” Tipton shared her perspective on the potential for industry growth and expanded access to global markets.
“I want to emphasize how important it is to continue to work together as an industry to improve the opportunities for your companies to grow and thrive,” Tipton told the approximately 100 attendees. “When we get together locally and regionally, as well as at national meetings, we all stay tuned-in to the issues that may not have a direct impact on you today but are extremely important to how you will operate in the future.”
Tipton began the address with a discussion of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and dairy product labeling. “The facts are pretty clear – no science has found GMOs to be harmful to health,” Tipton said. “We must stick with science as our guide on what we require on product labels; and claims must be truthful and not misleading.” She discussed implementation of the mandatory GMO labeling law in Vermont and how it could disrupt the free flow of interstate commerce. Tipton called upon the symposium attendees to support a federal solution to address the industry’s labeling issues.
Expanding Dairy Exports
Tipton then switched gears to address recent progress in trade negotiations. She said that eliminating barriers to trade growth is a top priority and IDFA has “been pushing hard for significantly increased dairy market access in both Japan and Canada in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).” Tipton said she hopes that the recent passage of Trade Promotion Authority will help trade negotiators “make meaningful progress.” But, Tipton noted that more work is needed in the fight over common cheese names.
“Fact or Fiction:” the Truth in Label Regulations
Also, Michelle Albee Matto, IDFA’s consultant on nutrition and labeling, participated earlier in the morning of the Symposium in a panel called “Labeling Claims for Dairy Products– Fact or Fiction.”
Matto joined Kevin Anderson, team leader Consumer Insights, Schreiber Foods, in discussing a variety of label claims, including natural claims and statements related to genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
Matto outlined the regulatory requirements of claims and what companies should consider when thinking about using those claims. “All claims could be fact or fiction– even for well-defined claims,” said Matto. “You still need to ensure that your product meets the requirements and be able to substantiate the claims you make.”
The Wisconsin Dairy Products Association represents all segments of the dairy industry. Member companies process a wide variety of dairy products. Its members are responsible for 80 percent of the milk and dairy products marketed in Wisconsin.
For more information on labeling regulations, contact Matto at firstname.lastname@example.org.