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Yogurt Standard of Identity

January 15, 2009 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a proposed rule to revise the “standard of identity” for yogurt.

What does this mean to you?

The live and active cultures present in yogurt give it many of its healthy properties. The National Yogurt Association believes there should be a minimum level of live and active cultures found in a product in order for it to be called “yogurt” – much like the standards for other foods.

For example, the term “juice” is reserved for products that contain 100% juice – a standard set by FDA. Other products can be marketed, but a term other than “juice,” such as “drink” or “beverage,” must be used to identify the product if it is diluted to less than 100% juice.

In much the same way, the National Yogurt Association is seeking a ruling from FDA that requires all products labeled as “yogurt” to contain a minimum level of the live and active cultures that give yogurt its healthy properties.

In addition, the National Yogurt Association supports a standard of identity for yogurt that would require a product that has undergone heat treatment to carry a statement on its package indicating it does not contain live and active cultures. Some yogurt manufacturers heat treat their products in order to prolong shelf life or decrease the natural tartness of the product; in doing so, however, the live and active cultures are destroyed.

The current FDA proposal suggests that a statement on the package indicating that a product has been heat treated is sufficient (i.e. “Heat treated after culturing.”) The National Yogurt Association, however, believes the standard of identity for yogurt should require clarification of the impact of heat treatment on the package, and that a statement like “Does not contain live and active cultures” would be more appropriate.

If you have any questions about submitting comments to FDA regarding the standard of identity for yogurt, please contact the National Yogurt Association at (703) 821-0770.