The International Dairy Foods Association, Washington, D.C., says it supports the Food and Drug Administration’s long-term strategic plan to improve effectiveness and efficiency under its Foods and Veterinary Medicine Program. Agreeing that the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) should be a top priority, IDFA urged FDA to help spur innovation by modernizing food standards and good manufacturing practices and completing rulemaking on yogurt and ultra-filtered (UF) milk. The plan outlines the agency’s priorities for 2012-16.
“IDFA was a strong supporter of FSMA during the legislative process and continues to support FDA during implementation,” the report says. “Development and application of science-based preventive controls are vital to the new law’s success. Issuance of a proposed rule on preventive controls should be a very high priority for the agency.”
One-third of standards cover dairy products
Noting that more than a third of all FDA food standards cover dairy products, IDFA urged the agency to modernize the food standards process and allow changes for non-characterizing ingredients without requiring new rulemaking. This change would enhance the industry’s ability to innovate quickly and save FDA considerable resources, without any negative impact on consumers.
IDFA also called for FDA to finalize rulemaking that would allow UF milk to be used in standardized cheese products and update the standards of identity for yogurt. Waiting years for these rules to become final has hindered opportunities for greater dairy product innovation and growth, the comments stated.
Timely testing and reporting of import and domestic samples are also important to the industry, especially for perishable products. As the agency increases its inspections of food facilities and begins to enforce the new preventive controls requirements, IDFA asked FDA to conduct sampling and report results in a timely and transparent manner.
IDFA also offered suggestions for improving or clarifying several food safety provisions, such as modernizing the good manufacturing practices (GMPs), which were last modified 25 years ago. IDFA says increased regulatory attention to sanitation, employee training, and environmental and allergen controls would improve food safety, and asks the states to continue relying on inspections for Grade A milk facilities to ensure compliance with the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
Allow any safe and suitable sweetener
In the area of nutrition, the comments urged FDA to grant IDFA’s petition, filed jointly in 2009 with the National Milk Producers Federation, Arlington, Va., to allow any safe and suitable sweetener to be used in sweetened milk products, including flavored milk.
“This petition is especially timely, as the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move’ initiative properly focuses attention on steps that can and should be taken to combat childhood obesity,” the comments said. “Because flavored milk is strongly preferred by many children, one way to reduce caloric intake is to allow alternative sweeteners that have zero or very few calories to be used in flavored milk.”