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EU Somatic Cell Count Standard Still Unresolved

August 2, 2010


EU Somatic Cell Count Standard Still Unresolved

U.S. government staff met in early July with European Union (EU) authorities to discuss the EU’s new somatic cell count (SCC) certification requirements, which will require each farm to meet a 400,000/ml. threshold.

The meeting yielded some positive information, but much work remains. Although the basic EU SCC requirements remain unchanged, the time period for implementation of a revised SCC certificate program in the U.S. has been extended. Specifically, the U.S. will not have to put in place a new SCC testing and certification program by Dec. 1, 2010 (the date on which the new EU dairy certificate takes effect). Rather, if changes to our SCC certification program are ultimately agreed upon by the U.S. government and industry, the U.S. would have additional time to develop and implement a revised certification program.

The current anticipated steps for this are as follows, should the U.S. dairy industry agree to continue pursuing this avenue for ensuring that the market remains open:

  • The Food and Drug Administration has written to its EU counterpart agency to confirm key elements of the discussion held in July on this issue.
  • After receiving the EU’s response, it is expected that the U.S. government will work closely with the U.S. industry to develop a new implementation program and propose a revised certification system. The development by the U.S. government and dairy industry of a workable program has been a core NMPF priority throughout this process.
  • This program would be made public for comment.
  • After the comment period and evaluation of input from the dairy industry, a final proposal would be released.
  • Following an industry educational period, the new program would then be put in place. No collection of data prior to the effective date of the new program is anticipated.

New information continues to come to light about the many ways in which EU countries allow their producers to undermine the stated intent of the EU regulations to maintain somatic cell count levels less than 400,000. NMPF continues to explore these reports in order to ensure that U.S. dairy producers are not held to a higher standard than EU dairy producers with respect to this requirement, particularly given the complete lack of scientific or trade justification for the necessary imposition of a 400,000 SCC limit on individual dairy farms.

NMPF will be reaching out to members to continue to gain additional information and share details as this process moves forward. If you have any questions about this issue, please contact Shawna Morris (