Yogurt standard still uncertain in US

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, released the following statement on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s response to IDFA’s objections and request for a hearing on the final rule to amend and modernise the standard of identity for yogurt released in June 2021:

“Yogurt makers have been waiting 40 years for the FDA to update and modernise the yogurt standard of identity. Today, the FDA issued a notice telling us to keep waiting—and threw in a whole lot of uncertainty, to boot.

“Last July, IDFA forcefully objected to the FDA’s final rule to amend and modernize the standard of identity for yogurt released in June. In December, IDFA sent a letter to Dr Woodcock, acting commissioner for FDA, reiterating our request for a hearing with FDA to resolve the industry’s objections, along with providing manufacturers sufficient time for compliance. Today, after eight months of waiting, FDA issued a notice staying certain provisions of the yogurt standard of identity final rule. IDFA was able to leverage unique formal rulemaking procedures available to the dairy industry to object and, ultimately, prompt a stay of certain provisions that are detrimental to our industry. Without this lever, an impractical final rule would have gone into effect, damaging yogurt makers, throwing retail establishments into confusion, and limiting choice for consumers. While a stay is helpful at this stage, IDFA’s efforts to reform the yogurt SOI will continue into an inexplicable fifth decade.

“IDFA remains deeply disappointed in the FDA process that led to the yogurt SOI final rule. After 40 years since FDA first issued standards for yogurt, IDFA and our yogurt members are back to where we started several decades ago, beseeching the FDA to work with yogurt makers to make commonsense updates to a category that has been waiting more than four decades for modernisation. Without standards that have been modernized, manufacturers are unable to meet consumer demands for innovative and nutritious yogurt products.  With many significant provisions stayed, IDFA will continue to work on the yogurt SOI with an aim to ensure FDA continues to move forward in responding appropriately to IDFA’s objections in a timely manner.”

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