Members of the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) met last week in St. Louis, Mo., to consider 75 proposed changes to the Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), which regulates all dairy plants producing Grade “A” products. The delegates passed 39 proposals, including one promoted by IDFA that seeks to reduce the inspection burden on plants producing both Grade “A” and non-Grade “A” dairy products by having only one inspection for compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s Preventive Controls for Human Foods rule instead of the two separate inspections currently required for each “grade” of product.
The delegates also passed two proposals about yogurt that are important to IDFA members. The first will task an NCIMS study committee to review NCIMS's role in regulating the repackaging of yogurt, sour cream, acidified sour cream and other cultured milk products that are produced in a commissary or other non-Grade “A” food production facilities. The committee will report its findings at the 2021 NCIMS Conference. The second proposal specified the required timeframes and pH levels for cooling yogurt that is cultured in the cup after filling.
The six-day biennial meeting drew more than 400 attendees, including state regulators, officials from the Food and Drug Administration and industry stakeholders from across the country. IDFA’s regulatory team and 113 professionals from 50 IDFA member companies participated in formal meetings, as well as ad hoc discussions and networking.
“Coordinated efforts by IDFA dairy industry professionals working with committees, councils, state delegates and FDA officials resulted in successful outcomes on numerous proposals,” said Cary Frye, IDFA senior vice president of regulatory affairs and NCIMS program chair. “IDFA members and staff met with state delegates and FDA officials during the conference, and we worked cooperatively with the National Milk Producers Federation to present a united voice on many key issues.”
The IDFA regulatory team met with many member representatives during the Conference. Front row, L to R: Michelle Matto, Taylor Boone, Danielle Quist and John Allan of IDFA. Second row, center: Cary Frye, IDFA, serves as NCIMS program chair.
Since the last conference in 2017, IDFA has advocated for a pilot program that would improve inspection efficiencies for FDA in facilities that manufacture both Grade “A” and non-Grade “A” products, such as non-dairy creamers, ice cream mix or cheese. IDFA has been working closely with FDA and the NCIMS to explore approaches for a dual-grade inspection program. A listening session hosted by IDFA and NMPF last December, with industry, state regulators and FDA officials, found that an early iteration of a pilot required significant modifications. Since the NCIMS approved a proposal to help refine what the pilot will look like going forward, IDFA will continue working on this effort for members.
After FDA has completed its review of the approved proposals, agency officials will meet with the NCIMS Executive Board in October to finalize the changes. FDA will publish the 2019 PMO, along with other documents noting the changes, early next year. The changes will take effect October 2020, unless other effective dates for individual proposals have been established.
In addition to Frye, the IDFA representatives who attended the conference were John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards; Danielle Quist, senior director of regulatory affairs and counsel; Michelle Matto, IDFA’s nutrition and labeling consultant; and Taylor Boone, coordinator of regulatory affairs. Frye and Allan are members of the NCIMS Executive Board.