Key takeaways

  • New rules take effect on January 1, 2024 for yogurt labeling.
  • The FDA has listed several changes that will implicate many yogurt products on the market.
  • Stakeholders should ensure compliance with the new rules by the implementation date to best mitigate risk.

The new standard

The FDA has issued a final order to amend the standard of identity for yogurt, with an implementation date of January 1, 2024. Currently, the FDA has separate standards of identity for yogurt, lowfat yogurt, and nonfat yogurt. Under the new rule, lowfat yogurt and nonfat yogurt will be covered under the general standard of identity which will allow nutritionally modified versions of yogurt to fall under the standardized definition.

The new standard will allow the use of all safe and suitable sweeteners, permit the use of fat-containing flavors in lower-fat yogurt, and make the minimum optional fortification of Vitamin D 10% of the Daily Value. The rule also outlines several other important changes:

  • If a yogurt bears the statement "contains live and active cultures" or similar language, the product must contain a minimum of 10 million colony-forming units per gram of live and active cultures.
  • For yogurt that is treated to inactivate viable microorganisms, the labeling must state "does not contain live and active cultures."
  • Yogurt with 2.44% to 3.25% milk fat must be labeled with the following two phrases which must appear together in the statement of identity:
    • The word "yogurt" in type of the same size and style for each letter
    • The statement "__ percent milk fat" with the blank containing the actual milk fat content of the product rounded to the nearest half percent.

Producers, manufacturers, sellers, and distributors should work to ensure that labels comply with the new requirements by January 1, 2024. Specifically, manufacturers and parties involved in labeling should work to ensure their labels conform to the new standards, and other parties involved in distributing or selling these products should verify that they have sufficient supply agreements and other documentation to shield themselves from unexpected liability related to product labels. Standard of identity changes are typically easy targets for plaintiffs' attorneys and therefore careful attention must be given to these label changes to ensure stakeholders are protected from litigation risks and government enforcement actions. As always, Reed Smith is prepared to assist clients as they navigate these changes and will keep a close eye on potential risks as these changes take effect.

This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.