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Canada Alters Cheese Standards, Limiting Use of Milk Ingredients

Jan 07, 2008

Canada Alters Cheese Standards, Limiting Use of Milk Ingredients

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency late last month announced final revisions to its cheese standards, limiting the use of concentrated, dried and reconstituted forms of milk and other milk proteins, such as whey proteins or milk protein concentrate (MPC), in both domestic and imported cheese. The use of liquid ultrafiltered milk, ultrafiltered partly skimmed milk and ultrafiltered skimmed milk in cheese making, which the Canadian government had thought of restricting, will be permitted.

The regulations will require companies to prove that their cheese products meet the new cheese identity and compositional standards. The government's analysis projects an additional cost of about $70 million (Canadian) to cheese manufacturers as a result of these ingredient restrictions. The regulations are scheduled to take effect on December 13, 2008.

"We're concerned that these new standards will threaten U.S. dairy exports," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president. "One of our main concerns is that there are no tests to show whether cheese is made from fresh milk or dried forms of milk, or whether proteins have been added during production. So how will U.S. dairy exporters prove that they have met the standards? And that raises the question, will their Canadian business partners continue to buy U.S. cheese?"

Last summer, the Canadian government received over 100 comments, including a letter from IDFA, during the open comment period when the regulations were proposed. (To read the letter, click here.) In its letter, IDFA expressed concern that the changes would inappropriately limit trade for certain dairy products. The letter also questioned whether the changes would be consistent with Canada's international trade obligations.

In general, the new standards set specific minimum percentages of casein content that must be derived from fresh liquid forms of milk, skimmed milk, ultrafiltered milk or cream. The remaining percent of casein may be derived from other dairy ingredients, such as dried, concentrated and reconstituted forms of milk and cream; butter; whey; whey protein; milk protein concentrate; casein; and caseinates. In addition the cheese must have a whey protein-to-casein ratio no greater than milk, thus prohibiting the addition of whey or whey proteins.

Depending on the specific variety of cheese, the minimum percentage of fresh forms of milk required varies from 63% to 95%, although Feta cheese has no restrictions. For mozzarella cheese, for example, the recommended ratio of protein derived from fresh milk to proteins derived from other dairy sources would be 83% (proteins from fresh milk) to 17% (proteins from other dairy sources). In contrast, U.S. cheese standards have no ratio requirement and permit cheese to be made from fresh, concentrated and reconstituted dry forms of milk, nonfat milk and cream. To read the revised regulations, click here.

IDFA plans to monitor the acceptance of the new standards and will work with stakeholders to minimize their impact on trade. For more information, contact Helen Medina, IDFA assistant director of international affairs, at or (202) 220-3507.


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