The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is issuing a final rule to revoke the standards of identity for lowfat yogurt and nonfat yogurt and amend the standard of identity for yogurt in numerous respects.

The final rule modernizes the yogurt standard to allow for technological advances while preserving the basic nature and essential characteristics of yogurt and promoting honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers.

“Following more than four decades of advocacy from IDFA and formal objections filed by IDFA in July 2021, the FDA announced changes to the 2021 Yogurt Standard of Identity (SOI) final rule on December 14 that largely aligned with IDFA’s requested changes and objections," said Joseph Scimeca, PhD, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). "Today, FDA issued additional clarity on the final rule that, again, was in line with IDFA’s objections and guidance. IDFA remains generally pleased with FDA’s decisions and considers the final rule a win for consumers and yogurt makers."

“In response to IDFA’s objections in 2021 and consistent with decades of IDFA guidance to the agency, FDA in December 2022 decided to amend the yogurt SOI to:

  • Set the minimum, optional fortification of Vitamin D at 10% of the Daily Value;
  • Permit the use of fat-containing flavoring ingredients (such as coconut flakes, chocolate, etc.) in lower fat yogurt that increase the total fat above the nutrient content claim level related to milkfat content; 
  • Permit the manufacture of yogurt with milkfat content less than 3.25% but at least 2.44%; and 
  • Allow the use of all safe and suitable sweeteners, including non-nutritive sweeteners, and provides for clear disclosure of non-nutritive sweeteners on labels where consumers are used to looking for this information in the ingredient declaration.

“Additionally, today the FDA issued a final order in response to the one remaining IDFA objection related to titratable acidity, which we requested in 2021. As a result, FDA is amending the yogurt standard to eliminate the titratable acidity requirement and only require products to have a pH of 4.6 or lower, measured on the finished product within 24 hours after filling.  This will allow for popular “cup-set” yogurts—like many “fruit-on-the-bottom” yogurts—to continue being made and sold, while ensuring the safety of yogurt. The previous iteration of the rule, as written, could have resulted in many of these products being discontinued, along with other styles. Today’s final order is the last piece of the puzzle for the yogurt SOI and ensures predictability in the marketplace for yogurt makers and consumers by keeping popular products on store shelves.

“The final rule is effective on April 14, 2023, and the compliance date is January 1, 2024. IDFA will continue to push for reform at the FDA to ensure the agency runs a more efficient, transparent, timely operation that effectively responds to industry and to the changing needs of consumers. Furthermore, IDFA will continue to reiterate that FDA’s food standards modernization efforts must continue at a much faster pace in closer collaboration with the industry and other stakeholders.”