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Legislation to Preserve ‘Natural Cheese’ Term is Introduced

Jan 18, 2018

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) joined Congressman Billy Long (R-MO) and and Ron Kind (D-WI) to introduce legislation today to codify a definition of the term “natural cheese” within the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Senate bill text is available here. The definition of "natural cheese" that is included in the bill reflects input from IDFA’s cheese company members.

In addition to Sens. Johnson and Wyden, Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are original cosponsors of the Senate bill. In the House, Congressmen Long and Kind are joined by Reps. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) as original cosponsors.  

The purpose of the bill is to preserve the longstanding right of cheese makers to use the term "natural cheese" on their products, which will help consumers identify a category of cheeses and differentiate "natural cheese" from "process cheese."

In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration began its own effort to define the use of the marketing claims "natural" and "all natural" on food labels. Natural labeling claims describe specific attributes of a food's ingredients, which is different than defining a category of food such as "natural cheese." Enactment of this legislation would ensure that the term "natural cheese" retains its historic meaning and help narrow FDA’s work to define how the term "natural" may be used in broader food product claims.

“U.S. cheese companies have been using the term 'natural cheese' for decades,” said Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy. “We commend Senators Johnson and Wyden as well as Congressmen Long and Kind for taking a common-sense approach to this issue, which will allow cheese makers to continue using this simple and longstanding term on their packaging.”

The legislation will be referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the House.  IDFA staff will continue to work with the Senate and House sponsors to advance the bill expeditiously through the legislative process. 

For more information, contact Carlin at

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