TFU Opposes Changes in 
Definition of Milk

Waco, TX (December 14, 2005) Texas Farmers Union (TFU) is opposing recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposals that would weaken quality standards for the production of ice cream and cheese products, and is urging dairy producers to contact the agency to speak out against these policy changes, stated TFU President Wes Sims.

Sims said the FDA’s proposals would potentially jeopardize decades of work and investment by America’s dairy producers and quality ice cream and cheese processors.

FDA regulates standards of ingredients for over 70 different cheeses. Current standards do not allow for the use of ultra filtered milk which is a highly concentrated product as the result of separation by filtration, commonly referred to as milk protein concentrates (MPC). FDA is now proposing to amend the definition of 'milk' and 'nonfat milk' as it relates to approved ingredients in standardized cheese production.

FDA has stated the use of ultra-filtered milk must not adversely affect the physical or chemical characteristics of the cheese. A 2001 investigation by the federal government’s General Accounting Office (GAO) reported ultra-filtered milk is not nutritionally equivalent to fluid milk.

Sims said efforts to use non-milk ingredients in the production of dairy products only serve to increase processor profit margins. There is no consumer demand for these changes and certainly no producer demand.

FDA is also considering the use of any safe and suitable 'milk-derived' ingredients in the manufacture of frozen desserts. Without a defined list of milk-derived ingredients, consumers will have no knowledge of what products are used in the making of their ice cream.

Furthermore, a weakening in the definition of milk could hurt dairy farmers. Imported dry ultra-filtered milk and milk protein concentrates have flooded the U.S. dairy market, displacing domestic fluid milk and nonfat dry milk due to a substantial price advantage.

"I encourage all Farmers Union members, dairy farmers, their suppliers and all their other friends to contact their Congressman, Senators and the FDA immediately before these changes are put into effect," said Sims.

Comments on the ice cream changes are due to FDA by December 27, 2005; public comments on changing cheese ingredient standards are due to FDA by January 17, 2006. More information on FDA’s proposals is available at www.nfu.org or www.fda.gov.

Dairy producers and consumers can contact the Texas Farmers Union office with questions and for more information at 254-776-4700.

Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556