WASHINGTON – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a notice on March 22 to clarify that certain provisions of the 2021 yogurt standard of identity final rule have been stayed. The final rule, published on June 11, 2021, amended the standard of identity for yogurt and revoked the definitions and standards of identity for low fat yogurt and nonfat yogurt.

Dairy standards of identity are subject to formal rulemaking procedures, which provide a 30-day period for the filing of an objection and request for hearing. If objections are properly filed, then the provisions to which objections were made do not go into effect.

In July 2021, the International Dairy Foods Association and Chobani LLC filed objections to several parts of the final rule. Specifically, the IDFA said the rule placed overly prescriptive limitations on what ingredients may be added after fermentation; restricted the required acidity and pH of certain types of yogurts; and established conflicting requirements that may deter yogurt manufacturers from adding vitamin D.

Chobani objected to the exclusion of ultrafiltered milk from the basic dairy ingredients identified in the rule.

“IDFA remains deeply disappointed in the FDA process that led to the yogurt SOI final rule,” said Michael Dykes, DVM, president and chief executive officer of the IDFA. “After 40 years since FDA first issued standards for yogurt, IDFA and our yogurt members are back to where we started several decades ago, beseeching the FDA to work with yogurt makers to make commonsense updates to a category that has been waiting more than four decades for modernization.

“Without standards that have been modernized, manufacturers are unable to meet consumer demands for innovative and nutritious yogurt products.  With many significant provisions stayed, IDFA will continue to work on the yogurt SOI with an aim to ensure FDA continues to move forward in responding appropriately to IDFA’s objections in a timely manner.”

The FDA said in aFederal Registernotice that the staying of the final rule does not mean a hearing on the filed objections is justified.