FDA Proposes to Revamp Standards of Identity for Yogurt

January 22, 2009

By Ricardo Carvajal –      

FDA has issued a proposed rule that would amend the standard of identity for yogurt and revoke the regulations on standards of identity for lowfat and nonfat yogurt.  Under § 401 of the FDC Act, FDA has the authority to establish a reasonable definition and standard of identity for any food to “promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers.”  Currently, there are separate standards of identity for yogurt, lowfat yogurt, and nonfat yogurt.  Under FDA’s proposal, there would be a single standard of identity for yogurt.  This standard of identity could be modified to produce lower-fat versions under 21 C.F.R. 130.10, which sets out requirements for foods named by use of a nutrient content claim (e.g., “low fat”) and a standardized term (e.g., “yogurt”).

In considering how to amend the standard of identity for yogurt, FDA reached a number of tentative conclusions, a few of which we highlight here.  First, the presence of live and active cultures would not be required, either at the time of manufacture or at the retail level.  However, yogurt that is not heat-treated after culturing and that contains a specified amount of live and active cultures could bear an optional labeling statement to that effect.  Second, reconstituted forms of cream and milk would be permitted as basic ingredients in the manufacture of yogurt, but whey protein concentrate would not be.  Third, the use of safe and suitable preservatives as optional ingredients would be permitted. 

FDA’s proposal states that, pending issuance of a final rule, FDA intends to consider the exercise of its enforcement discretion for yogurt products that comply with the proposed standard of identity. 

Categories: Foods