NMPF Facilitates NCIMS Passage of Proposals to Enforce Labeling, Enhance Safety of Dairy Foods

Several priority initiatives of NMPF and its members won the backing of the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) at its biennial meeting in Michigan in mid-May. In a surprising rebuke to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state milk regulators requested that the federal agency work with them to clarify the proper use of milk product labeling terms, as they unanimously adopted a resolution offered by NMPF.

By approving this resolution, “the NCIMS delegates acknowledged that states need federal assistance in the regulation of all products utilizing standardized dairy terms. This will ultimately benefit consumers, who face an increasingly bewildering assortment of imitation dairy products,” said Beth Briczinski, NMPF’s vice president of dairy foods and nutrition. “It’s time for FDA to work with state agencies in defending standards of identity for dairy products.”

The NCIMS is a national cooperative regulatory program that includes state milk regulatory agencies, dairy companies and FDA. NMPF staff attended the conference to advocate positions of interest to dairy cooperatives and their producer members. The states collaborate with federal regulators and industry groups, including National Milk, to ensure the safety and integrity of dairy products regulated under the Grade “A” program, including fluid milk, yogurt and other dairy products. When the six-day meeting concluded, delegates had approved approximately 40 of the 100 proposals offered to revise the conference’s model milk sanitation ordinance and supporting documents.

NMPF staff and members significantly contributed to the drafting of two proposals that were ultimately passed by the state voting delegates to finalize the alignment of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Foods. NMPF has been working since FSMA was approved in 2011 to bring both regulatory schemes into one harmonized program.

NMPF also insisted on the importance of greater transparency and communication from FDA regarding its process for Grade “A” equivalence. NMPF was unhappy with the lack of details about how FDA would regulate this issue, which led to an NMPF proposal that called for increased information sharing by and communication with FDA regarding evaluations and determinations of milk safety program equivalence in other countries. At NCIMS, FDA pledged much greater transparency with the NCIMS membership on foreign equivalence determinations, and ultimately supported an amended version of the proposal.

NMPF also submitted several proposals that were passed by conference delegates to alleviate any confusion about the timing criteria for tanker washing and milk sample collection; increasing transparency around milk safety program equivalence in other countries; and updating the requirements for bulk milk transportation and the requirements for voluntary testing of milk for drug residues.

For further information on the NCIMS conference results, please contact Clay Detlefsen at CDetlefsen@nmpf.org  or Beth Briczinski at BBriczinski@nmpf.org.