Dairy Product Standards

Many dairy food products have federal standards and grades that are based on composition, manufacturing, and quality requirements.
Dairy Product Standards - Articles


Code of Federal Regulations

Many dairy products in the U.S. have defined compositional or processing requirements, and these are found in Titles 7 (Agriculture) and 21 (Food and Drugs) of Code of Federal Regulations. Manufactures should be aware of all regulations pertaining to the specific dairy products they make. The website links below are for the electronic Code of Federal Regulations, the most up-to-date version available.

7 CFR 58. Grading and Inspection

General Specifications for Approved Plants and Standards for Grade of Dairy Products

Part 58 of Title 7 contains information about the USDA grading and inspection service, requirements for plants producing dairy products subject to USDA grading, quality specification for raw milk and finished milk and cream products, condensed and dried dairy products, butter products, cheese and cheese product, and frozen desserts.

Part 58 contains sections labeled "supplemental specifications for the manufacture of (product type here)" that have important information on equipment and operating procedures relevant to the specific product category. This information may be of interest to all dairy processor regardless of whether your products are graded by the USDA.

21 CFR 131. Milk and Cream

Part 131 of Title 21 contains definitions and composition requirements for 20 standardized milk and cream products, including lowfat milk, cream, yogurt, and dried milk products.

21 CFR 133. Cheese and Related Cheese Products

Part 133 contains definitions, composition, and processing requirements for over 70 standardized cheeses and products, including Cheddar, blue, Colby, Gouda, and Swiss cheese.

There are general standards for hard, semi-soft, and soft-ripened cheese varieties that are based on moisture and fat levels and are not tied to any type of cheese style or manufacturing process.

Some cheese varieties must be made from pasteurized milk and some varieties may be made from either pasteurized milk or unpasteurized milk as long as the cheese is properly aged. Check the specific cheese standard to determine the type of raw materials allowed.

21 CFR 135. Frozen Desserts

Part 135 contains definitions, composition, and labeling requirements for 5 categories of frozen desserts.

USDA Dairy Product Grades and Standards

Dairy products that undergo inspection and grading by the USDA fall under the regulations identified above in Part 58, Title 7 Agriculture, Code of Federal Regulations. The grading standard for dairy products are listed by category on the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service website. Products that participate in USDA inspection are often commodity and export products such as Cheddar cheese, butter, milk powder, and whey powder.