By John Allan, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and International Standards
Since commercial pasteurization and then refrigeration changed the potential of our industry forever, dairy has built a reputation the world over as a safe, affordable and nutritious food. Now in the Information Age, we’re innovating faster than ever through rapid analysis of consumer demands and preferences. But the Information Age is also a two-way street giving our dairy industry the opportunity to understand and account for questions from consumers and interest groups about dairy production and marketing. Questions about dairy’s efforts to be a good environmental steward, or how some dairy foods fit into a healthy diet or about the safety of food additives—these are all topics not only on the minds of policymakers and consumers in the United States, but around the world. The goal is not to get distracted with shiny objects and the issue of the moment—but to continue to evolve in a way that protects and enhances dairy’s good reputation based on safety, quality, affordability and nutrition. These characteristics are essential for trade as well as for securing consumer confidence now and into the future.
To be successful on the global stage, we need allies and partners who understand our industry and how to advocate using the tools of science, data and standards through international channels. Enter one of IDFA’s longtime partners, the International Dairy Federation (IDF).
Just a few weeks ago, I and a large U.S. delegation joined other global dairy stakeholders in Istanbul, Turkey at the International Dairy Federation’s (IDF) annual World Dairy Summit. The US-IDF is one of 45 national committees representing countries that work together as the International Dairy Federation to serve as the preeminent scientific expert body for the global dairy sector. The US-IDF represents the U.S. industry’s perspectives and interests within IDF. A list of US-IDF members is available here.
At the global level, IDF aims to leverage its members’ expertise and knowledge to ensure that the milk and milk products industry and dairy farmers can continue to operate in a beneficial consumer and policy environment. The World Dairy Summit brought together over 1,000 representatives of the global dairy sector from 55 countries, including processors, farmers, suppliers, service providers and government representatives, to explore key topics for the sector, such as dairy's role in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, current research relating to food loss and waste, sugar and protein science, and sustainable farming.
IDF Experts Making Progress and Setting 2020 Priorities
Figure: Diagram of IDF’s scope of work
IDF members volunteer experts from across the spectrum—from food additive safety to marketing and animal health—convened through various IDF standing committees, task forces and action teams, to advance work across a broad set of subject areas including: Codex food additive standards, food hygiene, food fraud, chemical contaminants, nutrition and health, environmental sustainability, ultra-processed foods, plant versus dairy-based beverages and many other subjects relevant to the dairy industry. In fact, as of last month, IDF had volunteers working on or tracking 174 different topics!
With such a large program of work, IDF also began a new prioritization process to help focus IDF staff’s and member volunteers’ time and attention on the most pressing topics. For 2020, a few of the key priorities will include ensuring comprehensive input into ongoing work by the Codex Alimentarius Commission related to front-of-pack nutrition labeling guidance, controlling antimicrobial resistance in the food chain, and a review of standard methods of analysis used by regulators and industry for testing milk and milk products.
World Dairy Situation Report 2019
The 2019 edition of the much-anticipated World Dairy Situation report published by the IDF was released at the World Dairy Summit. Developed by experts from dairy producing countries around the world, the report provides an in-depth understanding of the current macro supply and demand trends affecting the dairy sector. This 200-page flagship publication of the IDF provides an overview of the dairy sector in over 50 countries around the world and contains a wealth of information including a comprehensive set of dairy industry statistics and insight on the wide range of policies, analyses and economic factors influencing the sector.
School Milk Program Promotion
During the Summit, IDF also announced it will be developing an updated information bulletin on the benefits of providing milk in school feeding programs around the world. The bulletin will include a review of the evidence of the nutritional benefits of these programs, offering new perspectives into their global impact. The report will explore implementation, administration, promotion, nutritional importance and other aspects and will be an invaluable source of information for managers of school milk programs worldwide.
IDFA’s Cary Frye Awarded IDF Prize of Excellence
Finally, IDFA’s very own Cary Frye, senior vice president for regulatory affairs, received the IDF Prize of Excellence during the Gala Dinner before a ballroom full of dairy industry friends and colleagues from across the globe. The Prize of Excellence is an award given in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the work of IDF. Cary has been involved with the IDF for the last two decades as a member of the US-IDF, serving as vice chair and chair of the Standing Committee on Labeling and Terminology. She also served twice as a member of the IDF Board of Directors and has represented IDF at many Codex Committee on Food Labelling meetings.
IDFA’s leadership and involvement with IDF is just one example of how IDFA is working to create the conditions for continued growth and innovation for America’s dairy industry around the world.