FDA proposes rule change allowing ultra-filtered milk in U.S. cheeses
The Food and Drug Administration says using ultra-filtered milk in U.S. cheese production is okay. The FDA released a document Wednesday called a Guidance for Industry which says the FDA’s proposed rule change would let manufacturers use ultra-filtered milk or ultra-filtered nonfat milk to make standardized cheeses and related cheese products if they choose to.
Current regulations permit the use of concentrated, reconstituted, and dried forms of milk and nonfat milk as basic dairy ingredients but do not provide for the use of fluid or dried filtered milk or nonfat milk in cheese production.
The FDA has received requests to exercise enforcement discretion while the proposed rule goes through the approval process, which they plan to exercise. That means ultra-filtered milk might be used in cheese making sooner without processors being penalized for doing so.
The FDA says if finalized, the new rule would help achieve consistency with existing international standards of identity for cheeses and related cheese products. FDA officials also acknowledge there are issues regarding UF milk in the United States, as the dairy industry is experiencing both oversupply and pricing challenges due to changes in the export market.
The FDA’s action is being praised by industry leaders and public officials. Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Executive Director John Umhoefer calls the decision an important win for cheesemaking states. It’s something they have wanted for almost 20 years. Wisconsin Ag Secretary Ben Brancel calls the move a huge win for America’s Dairyland by opening U.S. markets to ultrafiltered milk.