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Industry Teamwork Paves Way for Success at NCIMS Conference

Apr 27, 2009

With assistance from nearly 70 Milk Industry Foundation (MIF) members, IDFA successfully advocated more flexibility in the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) for dairy processors at the biennial National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) conference held last week in Orlando, Fla. The NCIMS state delegates adopted four MIF proposals and 69 others out of the 133 submitted.

These proposals update the PMO and other NCIMS documents that affect all dairy plants producing Grade A products, such as fluid milk, cream products, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggnog, buttermilk and many dried dairy products.

"Plenty of advance preparation and teamwork between IDFA staff, MIF members, other industry organizations, and state and federal dairy regulators paved the way for the adoption of several key proposals," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president. "The result was increased processing flexibility and a decrease in unnecessary requirements without compromising public health safety."

Hough attended the meeting along with Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs and NCIMS program chair; Allen Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards; and Brian Fields, IDFA regulatory and scientific affairs assistant.

The most important outcome to MIF members, state regulators and the Food and Drug Administration was the clarification of what products may be considered Grade A milk products. This new definition, adapted from an MIF proposal, will include some non-standard milk products that contain a minimum protein level of 2.0 percent and at least 65 percent milk and milk ingredients on a weight basis. Having a clear definition in place eliminates inconsistencies from state to state and provides clarity to the industry for formulating innovative non-standard milk products, such as milk beverages, smoothies or cultured dairy desserts.

Frye, who led the successful effort to clarify the definition, said, "IDFA especially thanks the scores of MIF members who contributed their time and knowledge over the last several months to develop a solution that was acceptable to both FDA and the state regulators. This teamwork resulted in NCIMS delegate acceptance of the MIF proposal."

Another adopted MIF proposal will allow Grade A powdered dairy blends with up to 10 percent non-Grade A ingredients to be considered Grade A. The current limit for these ingredients, such as casein or milk protein isolates, is five percent.

"This decision will give a big boost to dairy product innovation, because we now have the ability to use new milk and whey powder fractions with unique properties, but which are not made in Grade A plants," said Sayler.

IDFA and MIF successfully opposed other proposals, including requests to add additional coding to all Grade A containers, mandate sampling of bulk milk product shipments between plants, change the focus of the NCIMS drug sampling program from raw milk tankers to individual dairy producers and legalize the interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption.

The delegates extended for two more years the Grade A aseptic pilot program, which removes regulatory conflict and duplication between the NCIMS aseptic and FDA's Low Acid Canned Food programs. They also extended and slightly expanded the Grade A International Certification pilot program that utilizes private certifiers to conduct Grade A farm and plant inspections and ratings.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has until late July to accept all adopted proposals, with the final 2009 NCIMS report expected in September 2009. Most changes resulting from adoption of the 2009 NCIMS proposals will become official in October 2010.

In addition, the NCIMS Conference re-elected John Beers of the Virginia Department of Agriculture as chairman, Don Breiner of Land O'Lakes, Inc. as vice chairman, and Jodeen Meenderink of Dean Foods Company and Dan Borer of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture as board members. Two new board members were also elected: Stephen Beam of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and George Blush of the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

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