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IDFA Convenes FDA, Dairy Leaders to Discuss Expanding Technology in Cheesemaking

Aug 02, 2018

IDFA this week brought together leaders from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the dairy industry to discuss updates to regulations that would allow dairy companies to use expanded filtration technologies when making standardized cheeses. FDA officials agreed to consider the request to modify the types of filtered-milk products that are allowed as ingredients in the cheese standards of identity.

“U.S. cheesemakers want to embrace new approaches for producing high-quality cheeses and milk-derived whey products that are used around the world. Companies need regulations that allow them to use new technologies so they can remain competitive in a global market and meet consumer demands,” said Cary Frye, IDFA senior vice president of regulatory affairs. “We’re working closely with FDA leaders to request revisions to the standards of identity for cheeses to permit the use of new filtration techniques, such as microfiltration.” 

There are currently three different techniques used to filter milk for cheesemaking: reverse osmosis, which concentrates the milk and only removes water; ultrafiltration (UF), which removes water and lactose; and microfiltration (MF), which removes water, lactose and whey protein.

The advantages of using MF milk is that it allows for standardization and an increase of casein in the cheese milk, which results in better yield and output of high-quality cheese. The byproduct of MF milk, known as permeate, is value-added milk-derived whey. It has flavor and composition advantages over traditional cheese whey as a high-value dairy ingredient used in nutritional products, such as dietary supplements and infant formula.

Outdated Regulations Hurt U.S. Cheesemakers

Joining IDFA at the meeting was Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Sheila Harsdorf, who explained that FDA’s outdated regulations were putting Wisconsin dairy processors and others at a disadvantage to competitors around the world. John Lucey, Ph.D., director and professor of food science, University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, also demonstrated that processors can use MF milk to produce high-quality cheese with nutrition and composition identical to cheese made with traditional milk.

Last August, FDA granted enforcement discretion for the use of UF milk in all standardized cheeses and related cheese products covered by the federal standards of identity, permitting the ingredient to be called “milk” when used in cheese.

In the meeting, IDFA and other dairy stakeholders stressed that FDA regulations should allow cheesemakers to use all types of milk filtration, including MF milk, that is produced in a plant or from outside sources to make any type of cheese. The dairy groups asked FDA to consider regulatory discretion for filtered milk in cheeses and work to codify the changes in a final rulemaking.

They also asked FDA to consider taking a broader approach to modernizing standards in the future, taking into account new processing technologies and ingredients without requiring a lengthy process of petitioning for changes to the standards of identity.

FDA officials appreciated the opportunity to learn about the use of milk filtration technologies that are used around the world in cheesemaking and agreed to review the dairy group’s request.

Other dairy industry leaders joining Frye, Harsdorf and Lucey in the meeting were:

  • Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO
  • Michael Culhane, Ph.D., owner, Dairy Advance Business Consulting, LLC
  • Richard Scarsella, corporate quality manager, Great Lakes Cheese Co., Inc.
  • Elizabeth Fawell, partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP
  • Veronique LaGrange, senior vice president of strategy and insights, American Dairy Products Institute  
  • Bill Graves, senior vice president of product research and food safety, Dairy Management Inc.

FDA officials participating in the meeting were:

  • Stephen Ostroff, M.D., deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine (OFVM)
  • Susan Mayne, director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) 
  • Douglas Balentine, director, Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling (ONFL), CFSAN
  • Felicia Billingslea, director, Division of Food Labeling and Standards, ONFL, CFSAN
  • John Sheehan, director, Division of Dairy, Egg and Meat Safety, Office of Food Safety (OFS), CFSAN
  • Monica Metz, chief, Milk and Milk Products Branch, OFS, CFSAN
  • Andrew Yeung, chief, Egg and Meat Products Branch, OFS, CFSAN
  • Larry Morris, policy analyst, OFVM
  • Doug Ticker, policy analyst, Office of Executive Programs, CFSAN


(L-R) LaGrange, Fawell, Graves, Culhane, Lucey, Scarsella, Harsdorf, Dykes and Frye.

For more information, contact Frye at


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