Established more than 20 years ago, the Codex Committee on Milk and Milk Products (CCMMP) this week completed its original mission of modernizing almost 30 dairy standards that are used by many countries today. The committee, which met in Auckland, New Zealand, officially adjourned today but could be reactivated if requested by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Perhaps most important to the U.S. dairy industry, efforts to modernize the Codex Processed Cheese standard ended as well, with a recommendation to revoke all existing Codex Processed Cheese standards. The U.S. government and dairy industry have long believed that revoking the standards would be better than accepting poorly written updates that might compromise the U.S. processed cheese domestic market.
Delegates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration represented the United States, along with IDFA Vice President Allen Sayler and representatives from Kraft Foods and Schreiber Foods. In all, 112 delegates from 34 member countries and five observer organizations attended the final meeting.
One action, supported by the U.S. dairy industry and completed during this week's meeting, finalized the Fermented Milk standard that includes fermented milk drinks, such as smoothies, as well as yogurt and kefir products. Under the new standard, fermented milk drinks must contain at least 40 percent dairy ingredients, and the amount of fermented milk and added water must be indicated on the label.
Another success involved updating the Codex Model Dairy Export Certificate, which will streamline export and import paperwork for U.S dairy products in a number of countries. U.S. participants also played key roles in updating a number of food additive issues, ensuring that countries adopting or enforcing the standards do not reject U.S. dairy products.
"Twenty years of commitment by IDFA staff and members paid off with the CCMMP, though its adopted dairy standards, ensuring U.S. dairy product access to foreign markets. In addition, internationally recognized Codex dairy standards facilitate U.S. dairy industry efforts to expand export markets," said Sayler.
One committee decision, however, may pose a problem for the U.S. dairy industry. The group agreed to replace its endorsement for many American Association of Analytical Chemists (AOAC) testing methods with analytical methods supported by the International Dairy Federation and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The AOAC testing methods currently are used by federal and state dairy regulatory programs and many private U.S. customers. With this Codex decision, it is likely foreign markets will move away from AOAC methods, requiring the U.S. dairy industry to test products using both methods to satisfy the U.S. and foreign markets.
"Unfortunately, this issue does not have an easy fix," said Sayler. "IDFA and its members will be working with AOAC, as well as state and federal dairy regulators, to develop a solution."
All changes adopted this week at CCMMP will be finalized during the July 2010 Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) meeting before they become official Codex standards. The CAC is an organization jointly administered and funded by two United Nations organizations, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), to develop food standards that reduce international trade barriers and improve dairy trade. Codex standards can also be used to resolve World Trade Organization disputes.
Members can view the 2010 CCMMP agenda here. An official transcript of the meeting will be available later this month. For additional details, contact Sayler at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (202) 220-3544.