IDFA is continuing to facilitate an open dialogue with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials who will soon introduce a pilot program to streamline inspections of Grade “A” and non-Grade “A” dairy products, when produced in a single facility, instead of having two separate inspections at different times. IDFA and others in the dairy industry support FDA’s intent to use government resources efficiently and reduce the inspection burden on these facilities, while maintaining high standards of food safety. This week, IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation hosted FDA officials in a face-to-face meeting with stakeholders to discuss ways to ensure the success of the pilot program.
Grade “A” milk and milk products are currently inspected by both state and FDA officials and are generally regulated under the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. However, non-Grade “A” foods—including other dairy products, like cheese and ice cream, as well as many other non-dairy foods and beverages—are regulated under FDA’s preventive controls for human food regulations. This approach can result in multiple visits by different state and federal regulators who are often reviewing the same equipment, general processes and sometimes many of the same ingredients.
During the meeting, the FDA officials told attendees that they aim to implement the pilot program from March-Sept. 2019, then evaluate what did or did not work, and consider the best way forward. IDFA and other stakeholders commended FDA for seeking ways to reduce the inspection burden on dually regulated plants, but also stressed the need for FDA to evaluate different approaches to increasing efficiencies and reducing burdens on industry during the pilot program, which the agency representatives agreed to do.
“I’m pleased that FDA was willing to meet with us and provide deeper insight into the agency’s goals and objectives so that we could provide better-informed feedback into the development of this pilot program,” said John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards. “This type of collaboration is essential to assuring a successful outcome.”
FDA was represented by Michael Rogers, assistant commissioner, FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), along with several other officials from ORA and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Also attending were stakeholders from several dairy companies:
- Associated Milk Producers, Inc.;
- Continental Dairy Facilities;
- Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.;
- Darigold, Inc.;
- Dean Foods Company;
- Foremost Farms USA;
- HP Hood LLC;
- Land O’Lakes, Inc.;
- Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.; and
- Saputo Cheese USA, Inc.
State representatives attending were:
- Timothy Anderson, chief of dairy services, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection;
- Stephen Beam, chief, milk and dairy food safety, California Department of Food and Agriculture;
- Casey McCue, director of milk control and dairy services, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets; and
- Janell Hendren, associate director of public policy and food safety programs, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
Representing IDFA were Cary Frye, senior vice president of regulatory affairs; John Allan, vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards; Danielle Quist; senior director of regulatory affairs and counsel; and Taylor Boone, coordinator of regulatory affairs.
Representing the National Milk Producers Federation were Clay Detlefsen, senior vice president for regulatory and environmental affairs, and Jamie Jonker, vice president of sustainability and scientific affairs.
The meeting was the next step for IDFA in its ongoing efforts to share member expertise and insights with food safety regulators to improve FDA’s inspection processes. In April, IDFA facilitated a tour of Dean Foods Company’s Mayfield Dairy plant in Athens, Tenn., for state and federal regulators. The visit provided a firsthand look at dairy processing at a facility that makes both Grade “A” and non-Grade “A” dairy products.
For more information, contact Allan at firstname.lastname@example.org.