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Regulatory Staff Protect and Advance Dairy

September 6, 2023

  • Pushed for labeling integrity and FDA to enforce its own standards of identity, filing extensive comments in response to its draft guidance on plant-based beverage labeling
  • Personally urged FDA Commissioner Robert Califf to develop labeling standards for cell-based and synthetic “dairy” products
  • Successfully advocated for dairy cooperatives and their producer members at the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments to ensure they have a voice in any updates made to the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance
  • Filed comments on FDA’s proposed “healthy” definition pushing for milk, cheese and yogurt to qualify, thus better educating consumers on dairy’s nutritional benefits
  • Outlined animal health priorities with USDA APHIS

Regulatory work is often just as much about fighting against harmful rules, as it is pushing for positive change. Efforts this year have ranged from pressuring FDA to enforce its own standards of identity for milk and develop labeling standards for cell-based products to representing member views on issues including the biannual update of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and EPA PFAS regulations.

FDA’s draft guidance on labeling for plant-based beverages released in February encourages plant-based beverage manufacturers who choose to use dairy terms to voluntarily disclose their nutritional differences with real milk. NMPF regulatory staff submitted comments July 31 emphasizing the importance of transparent product labeling to ensure consumer understanding FDA’s need to enforce its own standards of identity for milk.

NMPF staff also elevated the need for FDA to develop labeling standards for cell-based products to end dairy product mislabeling and prevent a repeat of the plant-based labeling fiasco through a conversation and letter addressed to Commissioner Califf sent on June 26.

The biannual National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments convened in April to revise the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, with NMPF regulatory staff playing a vital role in the conference deliberations. NMPF submitted three proposals at the conference, dealing with on-farm biosecurity and defining equivalency – all of which had positive outcomes.

Following a proposed rule from FDA to update the labeling definition of “healthy” to align more closely with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), NMPF urged FDA to include a broader range of dairy products, thus educating consumers about dairy’s nutritional value and improve consumption closer to DGA recommendations.

NMPF in August met with USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) leadership to discuss dairy’s domestic and international animal health priorities. Staff emphasized the importance of collaboration between industry and government on preparedness for foreign animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease.

To further NMPF’s antibiotic stewardship work, Chief Science Officer Jamie Jonker, Ph.D., was appointed to the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance to provide an animal health perspective to the group’s goal of strengthening global political momentum on the issue.