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Dairy Facts 2016

USDA Issues Final 'Dairy 6' Purchasing Specs for Dairy Products

Apr 17, 2006

USDA Issues Final 'Dairy 6' Purchasing Specs for Dairy Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this month released its final version of "Dairy 6," the specifications for government purchases of salted butter, cheddar cheese (blocks), American-style cheese (barrels) and nonfat dry milk. These specifications will be used in commercial transactions between private buyers and sellers as well as in product trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

"We believe that Dairy 6 goes a long way toward eliminating arbitrary criteria that are not used for the commercial sale of dairy products," said Allen Sayler, IDFA senior director, regulatory affairs. "This will benefit both the U.S. dairy industry and the government programs that use these products."

IDFA consistently urged USDA's Farm Service Agency to revise the previous specifications ("Dairy 5") over the past two years. Working together, IDFA staff and National Cheese Institute (NCI) members submitted two separate sets of comments, one in 2004 and another in 2005, stating their opposition to some specifications while urging the adoption of others. Specifically, the industry opposed unnecessary pathogen end-product testing, unjustified lowering of product-delivery temperatures, vague product specifications, excessive packaging requirements, difficult sampling criteria, and inflexible lot-size specifications that did not match common commercial lot sizes.

In its final form, Dairy 6 incorporated many of the changes advocated by IDFA, such as:


Changing the coliform count requirement for cheese from 10 to 100 cfu/gram, Increasing the maximum transport temperature of cheese from 35 to 45 degrees F, Removing language that could be interpreted broadly to require testing for the presence of many food additives not normally found in these products, Adequately defining the point after which product defects are not the responsibility of the manufacturer, and Removing the phrase "relatively smoothly finished" as a requirement for salted butter because it is redundant and difficult to interpret.

Also on April 7, the Farm Service Agency released its first request for purchase of salted butter, block cheddar cheese, American cheese packed in barrels and nonfat dry milk under Dairy 6. USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation will accept offers by e-mail, fax or mail and respond within two business days. For more information on this request, click here.

To read the complete text of the Dairy 6 announcement, click here. For additional information, contact Sayler at (202) 220-3544,



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Posted April 17, 2006


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