Modernizing Standards Will Help Dairy Meet Consumer Demands
The Food and Drug Administration announced in April that it would modernize food standards of identity as part of its multi-year Nutrition Innovation Strategy plan, updating rules that govern how dairy products are named to allow for more industry innovation. In comments submitted last week, IDFA welcomed the move to modernize several dairy standards, which is a decades-old priority of the industry.
IDFA recommended several ways to keep modernizing standards to meet shifting consumer demands. It also stressed that updates to labeling claims, another major focus of the strategy plan, should consider how to help companies communicate the healthful attributes of foods, which would encourage the formulation of more healthful products.
Standards of Identity
IDFA urged FDA to consider four options for more efficient updating of the food standards:
- Prioritize reviewing and responding to individual citizen petitions requesting changes to the food standards, including issuing modernized yogurt standards of identity and allowing the use of fluid filtered milks in standardized cheeses;
- Take a horizontal approach to modernization, which would update specific categories of flexibility across all food standards, as opposed to moving through specific foods one by one;
- Explore legislative changes that could facilitate more timely updates to the dairy standards and modernize the standards framework; and
- Streamline and revise the temporary marketing permit process. FDA sometimes allows companies to try out changes outside the standards as a way to gather data. Expanding the program would provide greater opportunities for standards modernization.
IDFA also shared three priorities for labeling claims, which represent another major focus of FDA’s strategy plan.
- Consider modernizing the framework for claims by taking a broad, holistic view of all food labeling claims, including the term “healthy,” dietary guidance statements, health claims and other front-of-pack claims.
- Consider shorter, more succinct and consumer-friendly claims language to increase consumer understanding and utilization.
- Finalize a revised definition for “healthy” before considering the use of an icon or symbol for this term. IDFA stressed that any symbol demonstrating a health claim should be voluntary, supported by consumer research and education, and not disparaging.