06 Feb 2018 --- The European Union has approved European Dairy Association (EDA) guidance for “cheese as raw material” and the organization for the processed cheese sector, Assifonte’s “Good Manufacturing Practice Guidelines for Processed Cheese” – a major for food safety, consumer protection and product quality across the Union.
“The EDA guidelines for ‘cheese as raw material’ are a concise and state-of-the-art compendium on the high safety and quality of cheese as raw material within the processing industry,” said Alexander Anton, secretary general of EDA and of Assifonte.
“These guidelines are completed by the Assifonte “Good Manufacturing Guidelines Practice for Processed Cheese”, which set an EU benchmark and a best practice manual for the processed cheese industry.”
“Both guidelines, that will be translated into all 23 official EU languages, underline the global leadership of the EU cheese and processed cheese industry also when it comes to safety and quality.”
The EU Commission’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain unanimously approved the EDA Guidance for ‘Cheese as raw material’ and Assifonte “Good Manufacturing Practice Guidelines for Processed Cheese” in its last meeting.
Assifonte chair Ludwig Rupp also welcomes the move.
“In other words, the European Commission and the Member States have endorsed this major step for food safety, consumer protection and product quality across the Union,” he said.
“This is the fruit of over ten years of concentrated work from committed cheese experts from EDA and I want to highlight specifically the work of Claus Heggum from the Danish Dairy Board, who really drove this project from the very beginning.”
“This is also the result of the EDA and Assifonte secretariat’s high-level commitment, over the past 18 months on these project.”
These two guidelines will be published in the near future on EU Commission’s official food hygiene guidance platform.
International Dairy Foods Association urges reform
Meanwhile, in the US the International Dairy Foods Association (IDA) recommends areas for regulatory reform for dairy product manufacturing, claiming that regulations are overly burdensome, outdated and barriers to innovation.
The IDFA is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to modernize outdated standards of identity for dairy products, revise overly burdensome regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and extend the compliance date for the revised Nutrition Facts label. The IDFA made the comments in response to the agency’s request to identify regulations that foods manufacturers believe should be repealed, replaced or modified.
“IDFA appreciates the opportunity to provide comments to FDA regarding the regulatory burden that dairy foods manufacturers face and suggest revisions to those regulations,” said Cary Frye, IDFA senior vice president for regulatory affairs. “IDFA supports the Trump administration’s goals to significantly reduce regulatory burdens while maintaining the product safety and integrity that consumers expect.”
Extend the nutrition facts label compliance date
IDFA is asking FDA to extend the compliance dates for the nutrition facts label and serving size final rule to July 1, 2020, for manufacturers with US$10 million or more in annual food sales and until July 1, 2021, for manufacturers with less than US$10 million in annual food sales.
This additional time will allow dairy companies to properly manage label changes and significantly reduces costs to food companies and consumers.
“While IDFA greatly appreciated and supported FDA’s initial extension of the Nutrition Facts labeling compliance date, IDFA believes that additional time is needed to align the labeling compliance date as closely as possible with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) bioengineered food disclosure standard,” said Frye.
Modernize standards of Identity
In its comments, IDFA said that there are currently 300 identity standards for foods across 20 broad categories that establish defining characteristics and describe processing parameters, permitted ingredients and compositional requirements.
However, IDFA pointed out, many of these standards are outdated and do not reflect current processing technology nor do they provide the much-needed flexibility for future technological advancement.
“Reviewing and revising the existing standards of identity would provide more flexibility, allow for new ingredient uses and reflect current and future technological advances,” said Frye.
“Each of the proposed changes will provide dairy processors with greater flexibility, the ability to create more innovative products and continue to meet consumer expectations.”
IDFA highlighted 10 dairy product identity standards that require modernization and modification including standards for cheese, ice cream, milk and yogurt.
Several provisions in FSMA, including the intentional adulteration rule, supply-chain requirements for co-packers and written assurances requirements, need revisions because they are overly burdensome, IDFA said.
“FSMA regulations represent a paradigm shift in how food is regulated in the US to protect consumers from foodborne illness outbreaks, and our members are dedicated to ensuring that their products are safe, wholesome and nutritious,” added Frye.
“Now that all of the major FSMA regulations have been promulgated, it is clear that in many instances there are duplicative and unnecessary requirements.”
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