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Dairy Facts 2016

Codex Wants Work on Processed Cheese Standards to Continue

Jul 23, 2010

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), a United Nations-supported organization focusing on international food standards, convened in Geneva this month to deliberate on several recommendations from its committees and task forces. Many of the commission's decisions will have particular importance for IDFA members. One recommendation approved by the CAC eliminated the three, decades-old Codex processed cheese standards, an outcome IDFA and its members supported. Unfortunately, the CAC also approved the recommendation to work on a new standard to replace those eliminated. IDFA and its members opposed this effort.

"The decision to continue efforts to revise the processed cheese standard is disheartening because, after 12 years of work, there have been no positive outcomes," said Allen Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards. "IDFA believes Codex resources would be better targeted in other areas, and we'll continue working to ensure that U.S. processed cheese and other dairy products are recognized for their high quality in future Codex efforts."

IDFA supported the Codex Committee on Milk & Milk Product's (CCMMP's) recommendation to CAC to eliminate the old processed cheese standards, which were outdated and did not reflect processed cheese that is now being traded internationally. In addition, IDFA also supported CCMMP's recommendation to stop all work on developing a new Codex processed cheese standard, which would have allowed lower-quality imitation cheese to be covered by the same international standard as high-quality American processed cheese. 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.

A positive outcome from the 2010 CAC meeting was the finalization and adoption of a Codex standard for fermented milks (yogurt) that included a section on fermented milk drinks (smoothies). The effort to finalize this standard involved over 10 years of effort by IDFA staff, members and dairy allies in many countries.

Codex decisions on standards can have a significant impact on IDFA members that export dairy products, since many Codex standards are often adopted by importing countries and are used to resolve World Trade Organization disputes.

For more information, contact Allen Sayler at or (202) 220-3544.


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