FDA is proposing to allow dairy processors and other food manufacturers to use new label language to promote the health benefits of calcium. Under a proposed new rule, milk cartons, yogurt packages and even some fat-free cheeses could soon display wording to the effect that vitamin D and calcium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and promote bone health.



FDA is proposing to allow dairy processors and other food manufacturers to use new label language to promote the health benefits of calcium. Under a proposed new rule, milk cartons, yogurt packages and even some fat-free cheeses could soon display wording to the effect that vitamin D and calcium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and promote bone health.

Once final, the proposed rule would allow reduced-fat, lowfat and fat-free milk and other eligible dairy products to display a health claim that states, “Physical activity and adequate calcium and vitamin D throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis,” or “may build and maintain good bone health.”

Cary Frye, v.p. of regulatory affairs at International Dairy Foods Assn., said the new rule would allow more flexibility for marketing the health benefits of dairy products, and allow more “consumer-friendly” wording on product labels.

The public comment period on the new rule runs through March 21.

The newly sworn in Congress could soon be called upon to clarify FDA’s year-end finding that would clear the way for food producers and manufacturers to use meat and milk from cloned animals. In releasing its Draft Risk Assessment Dec. 28, FDA opened a 90 day public comment period. The Draft Risk Assessment finds that meat and milk from clones of adult cattle, pigs and goats, and their offspring, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. The assessment was peer-reviewed by a group of independent scientific experts in cloning and animal health. They agreed with the methods FDA used to evaluate the data and the conclusions set out in the document, according to an agency statement. Some consumer groups say they will try to rally public opinion against any change in policy. Most industry groups are taking a cautious approach. The public comment period runs until April 2.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is proposing an expansion of the list of allowable imports from countries recognized as presenting a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or “mad cow disease,” into the United States. Currently, Canada is the only minimal-risk country designated by the United States.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said the move would implement “science-based trade relations with countries that have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent BSE.” Johanns said the change would make U.S. policy consistent with international guidelines.

The change allows importation of live cattle and other bovines for any use born on or after, March 1, 1999, the date determined by APHIS to be the date of effective enforcement of the ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban in Canada; blood and blood products derived from bovines, collected under certain conditions; and casings and part of the small intestine derived from bovines. USDA has opened a public comment period on the proposed changes until March 12.