Saturday, November 8, 2008

Country of Origin Labeling For Dairy Products Needed to Protect Consumers From Melamine Taint (S.3653), Melamine Taint May Go Beyond Dairy Products

Partly in response to growing concerns about the potential for melamine contamination of milk products and milk-derived ingredients imported from China, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced legislation in the Senate aimed at extending country-of-origin labeling requirements to dairy products.

The Dairy COOL (country-of-origin labeling) Act of 2008, S.3653, extends the country-of-origin labeling requirements (as contained in the 2008 farm act) beyond meats, produce and nuts to include dairy products.

Dairy COOL would require retailers of a product derived wholly or partly from milk or milk-derived ingredients designate where the covered dairy commodity or commodities were produced, originated or sourced, and each country in which the covered commodity was processed. The bill won support from some producer and consumer groups, and industry groups are “reviewing” the proposed legislation (most likely looking at the financial impact on its members, rather than the food safety considerations).

Milk and milk products that may originate from China included condensed, dried and non-fat milk, condensed and dried whey, lactose powder, permeate powder, demineralized and partially demineralized whey powders, caseins, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, whey protein concentrate and milk protein concentrate.

Manufacturers also need to be alert to the possibility that non-milk-derived ingredients from China that are or may be sold on the basis of protein content, such as soy protein, also could be contaminated with melamine, according to the F.D.A.

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