ABI Approves of USDA’s Proposed Butter Testing Changes at Fall Meeting

The American Butter Institute’s (ABI) Board of Directors reviewed and approved a USDA proposal to allow for greater industry participation in butter testing at its fall conference in Phoenix, Oct. 5-6.

ABI, an industry group managed by NMPF, worked with NMPF regulatory staff to respond to an August proposal from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) that would allow butterfat tests to be performed at an in-house or approved third party laboratory, and add a requirement for plants to maintain and make such records available for examination by a USDA inspector. ABI’s response supported the amendment as a means of increasing butter processing efficiency that conforms to current industry practice. ABI’s members also sought further clarification from USDA about which tests will be reviewed, suggesting that only finished product tests should be considered.

ABI’s letter to USDA, signed by NMPF Chief Counsel Clay Detlefsen, who also works for ABI under the management arrangement, also proposed that butter manufacturers take the lead in performing grading services in their own facilities, following the procedures set forth by USDA. Under this new approach — also discussed at the fall conference by ABI’s board — USDA could then audit those records to ensure manufacturer compliance with USDA grading procedures and allow the finished goods to use the USDA grade shield.

ABI will continue to speak with USDA about how to shift more grading practices to member companies’ facilities.