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Senate measure would give natural cheese a definition

The CURD Act is aimed at providing more transparency to consumers involving packaged cheese

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wants to put some words alongside “natural cheese”.

Apparently natural cheese is without an official definition on food packaging, and Johnson has re-introduced the Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions Act (CURD) to get more clarity on the product and to allow consumers to make better choices. The CURD Act would define natural cheese as cheese that is produced from animal milk or other dairy ingredients and is produced in accordance with established cheese-making practices.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Tammy Baldwin (R-Wis.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) joined Johnson in co-sponsoring the measure.

“Wisconsin is known for its cheese, in all its forms and varieties,” Johnson said. “Codifying the definition of ‘natural cheese’ will allow consumers the necessary information to make informed decisions when purchasing and enjoying the great products of our state.”

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Executive Director John Umhoefer added that the dairy processing industry has used the term “natural cheese” for decades to help differentiate cheese made with fresh milk and dairy ingredients from pasteurized-processed cheese.

Sen. Baldwin recently led the introduction of bipartisan legislation to combat the unfair practice of mislabeling non-dairy products using dairy names, the Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act (DAIRY PRIDE Act) of 2023. The legislation followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed guidance allowing nut, oat, soy, and other non-dairy products to use the name "milk.”

The House version of the CURD Act was introduced two years ago by Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind. Despite the measure being backed by 29 co-sponsors it never reached the House floor for a vote.

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