U.S. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule to amend and modernize the standard of identity for yoghurt, as part of its Nutrition Innovation Strategy aimed at improving public health.

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.

FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy seeks to improve nutrition in order to lessen the burden of chronic and preventable disease.

Standards of identity establish requirements related to the content and production of certain food products.

By modernizing standards of identity, the FDA anticipates to boost health and allow innovation while preserving the essential characteristics of foods.

Yoghurt manufacturers are expected to enact the new regulations by 1 January 2024.

One of the goals of the strategy is to modernize food standards, to retain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products, while permitting industry flexibility for innovation to produce more healthful foods.

Currently, the FDA has three separate standards of identity for yoghurt, low-fat yoghurt, and nonfat yoghurt.

In the amendment, low-fat yoghurt and nonfat yoghurt will be covered under FDA’s general definition and standard of identity, which allows nutritionally modified versions of traditional standardized foods.

The final rule expands the allowable ingredients in the product, including sweeteners such as agave, and reconstituted forms of basic dairy ingredients.

 It specifies the minimum amount of live and active cultures yoghurt must contain to bear the optional labeling statement “contains live and active cultures” or a similar statement.

For yoghurt processed in such a way as to inactivate viable microorganisms, the statement “does not contain live and active cultures” should be pronounced on the label.

Additionally, the final rule backs the many innovations that have already been made in the yoghurt marketplace, such as fortification with vitamins A and D, as long as the fortification requirements are met.

It also authorizes various styles or textures of the probiotic product as long as they meet requirements in the standard of identity.

The FDA began setting up standards of identity around 1938 to uphold honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers.

It has since established more than 280 standards for a wide variety of food products.