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Dairy Facts 2016

IDFA, Others Call on EPA to Clarify Definition of Oil

Oct 14, 2008

IDFA has signed a joint letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, along with 25 other associations, asking the agency to clarify its definition of "oil" and mixtures containing oil, including fat, as they apply to spill prevention and control. The associations say the current definition is vague and ambiguous, and many regional EPA officials are applying it inconsistently. In some instances, dairy products have been identified as an oil mixture, requiring processors to provide additional containment equipment and ratcheting up compliance costs.

The groups signing the letter ranged from the National Paint and Coatings Association, which led the effort, to the American Meat Institute, the Corn Refiners Association and the National Cotton Council of America. A full list of associations is included in the letter.

The definition of oil under question is included in the EPA's Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure regulations, which are designed to protect the country's waterways from hazardous spills.

"We remain very concerned that the current definition is so broad that it covers products posing little or no risk to navigable waters," the letter states. "Many companies are being forced to make overly conservative assumptions, driving up SPCC compliance costs, especially for small businesses."

An EPA official recently explained that, given the agency's methodology for determining what constituted oil, "If a mixture contains any oil, the entire mixture has to be considered oil," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs. "We pointed out to EPA that, under that logic, even fat-free milk would be considered oil because it still contains a negligible amount of fat, as allowed by the Food and Drug Administration."

The group asked EPA to take immediate action on the definition, along with loosening the enforcement criteria until new criteria can be developed. New regulations and compliance for oil and oil mixtures are scheduled to go in effect on July 1, 2009.

For more information, contact Detlefsen at or 202-220-3554.


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