On 9 June 2021, the USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its final rule on the standard of identity for yogurt.
Standards of identity set out requirements related to the content and production of certain food products. One of the goals of the Nutrition Innovation Strategy is to modernise food standards to maintain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products while allowing industry flexibility for innovation to produce more healthful foods.
Currently, the FDA has separate standards of identity for yogurt, low-fat yogurt, and nonfat yogurt. Under the final rule, low-fat yogurt and nonfat yogurt will be covered under FDA’s general definition and standard of identity, which allows nutritionally modified versions of traditional standardised foods.
The final rule expands the allowable ingredients permitted in yogurt, including sweeteners such as agave, and reconstituted forms of basic dairy ingredients. It establishes a minimum amount of live and active cultures yogurt must contain to bear the optional labeling statement “contains live and active cultures” or a similar statement. For yogurt treated to inactivate viable microorganisms, the statement “does not contain live and active cultures” is required on the label. Additionally, the final rule supports many innovations that have already been made the yogurt products sector, including continuing to allow manufacturers to fortify yogurts, such as adding vitamins A and D, as long as they meet the legal fortification requirements. The rule also allows various styles or textures of yogurt, as long as they meet requirements in the standard of identity.
The action responds, in part, to a citizen petition submitted by the National Yogurt Association, which is now part of the International Dairy Foods Association.
The compliance date of this final rule is January 1, 2024, which is the overall compliance date for the final food labeling regulations issued in 2021 and 2022.
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