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senate Bill S. 2322

Should the Gov’t Define What ‘Natural’ Cheese Is?

Argument in favor

Consumers need accurate information about the food products they’re buying in grocery stores. Currently, the lack of definition for “natural cheese product” makes it difficult for consumers to know whether the cheese they’re buying is, in fact, real cheese made with established cheese-making practices.

SneakyPete's Opinion
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12/22/2018
It’s the USDA Responsibility To Keep Consumers Informed. Consumers need accurate information about the food products they’re buying in grocery stores. Currently, the lack of definition for “natural cheese product” makes it difficult for consumers to know whether the cheese they’re buying is, in fact, real cheese made with established cheese-making practices. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻🧀🧀🧀👍🏻. 12*22*18......
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Lionman's Opinion
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12/22/2018
After we define “natural,” advertisers will use a new word.
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Maryjane's Opinion
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12/22/2018
YES, a true, unadulterated definition of natural cheese IS VERY IMPORTANT to protect consumers from “processed cheese products” masquerading as cheese. The INTEGRITY of our foods is important for health!
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Argument opposed

This bill is a giveaway to the dairy industry that’ll create more, not less, consumer confusion. Its definition of “natural” doesn’t adhere to most consumers’ assumptions about what a “natural” product is, and will lead to consumers buying “natural cheese” that doesn’t align with what they believe they’re getting.

JTJ's Opinion
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12/22/2018
I’m sure the market can sort out the cheeses just fine without government involvement.
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Joseph's Opinion
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12/22/2018
I don’t recall anything in the Constitution regarding power granted to the Federal Government to define cheese
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Susan's Opinion
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12/22/2018
IT'S NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT JOB TO VOTE ON CHEESE.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house Rejected December 20th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 230 Yea / 162 Nay
  • The senate Passed December 13th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    IntroducedJanuary 18th, 2018

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What is Senate Bill S. 2322?

This bill, the Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions (CURD) Act, would create a legal definition for “natural cheese”. By defining this term, which currently has no official definition, this bill would aim to provide transparency and consistently for consumers, so they can differentiate between “natural cheese” and “process cheese,” or processed cheese products. Under this bill, “natural cheese” would be defined as cheese that is produced from animal milk or other dairy ingredients in accordance with established cheese-making practices.

If passed, this bill would ban cheese companies from using the term “natural cheese” to describe pasteurized process cheese foods, cold pack cheeses, and grated American cheese foods.

Impact

Consumers; cheese consumers; cheese companies; dairy industry; processed cheese products; and the FDA.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2322

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced this bill to define “natural cheese”:
“Wisconsin is known for its cheese, in all its forms and varieties. 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.”

Original cosponsor Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) adds that customers should have all the information they need to make cheese purchases:

“Oregonians know full well that our state’s high-quality cheese has earned well-deserved national and international renown for both taste and quality. This bill will make sure that cheese consumers nationwide have all the information they need to understand what they’re buying at their local supermarket.”

The International Dairy Foods Association’s (IFDA) supports this bill. IFDA’s Drew Carlin points out that while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has guidelines on “natural” labeling, those guidelines describe specific attributes of a food’s ingredients, rather than the process by which the food is made — an important distinction in the case of cheese, as the processing of the milk product is the point of difference between natural versus processed cheese.

IFDA President and CEO Michael Dykes added that this bill is a “common-sense approach to the definition of ‘natural cheese”:

“U.S. cheese companies have been using the term ‘natural cheese’ for decades. This legislation will allow cheesemakers to continue using this simple and long-standing term on their packaging. We appreciate the leadership of these four members of Congress to ensure that the term ‘natural cheese’ retains its historic meaning.”

Consumer Reports (CR), an independent, non-profit member organization that works with consumers for truth, transparency, and fairness in the marketplace, opposes this bill. In a letter to the House on December 20, 2018, CR argues that this bill “would only add to consumer confusion at the supermarket and undermine ongoing efforts to make food labeling clearer and more consistent”:

“[T]his seemingly mundane bill would allow cheese to be labeled ‘natural’ even if the cheese includes artificial ingredients or synthetic substances, such as yellow food dye, or if the cheese was produced using methods or pesticides that consumers do not consider “natural” according to our recent survey. Generally, S. 2322 would permit misleading food labeling on cheese that is inconsistent with consumers’ understanding of the term “natural.” According to Consumer Reports’ nationally representative April 2018 survey of 1,014 U.S. residents, most Americans think ‘natural’ should mean: (1) that no artificial ingredients were used (81%); (2) that no added hormones were used during food production (81%); and (3) that no chemical pesticides were used during food production (79%). The CURD Act would allow the label “natural cheese” on products with any of these characteristics.”

CR also argues that this bill would undermine the FDA’s work on defining “natural” for food-labeling purposes:

“We also oppose [this bill] because it would undermine ongoing work at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to define ‘natural’ through a process that prioritizes the public interest and involves the input of all stakeholders. This effort intends to define the term ‘natural’ in a way that is not misleading and based on consumer understanding, and that applies to all foods in the marketplace overseen by the agency. We support this initiative, especially because our April 2018 survey found that 88% of Americans think that all companies should meet the same standard for the ‘natural’ label. Congress should not short-circuit this important work by setting a special definition of ‘natural cheese.’”

Finally, CR argues that this bill “ultimately places the interests of cheese producers ahead of the broad need for consumers to understand what they’re buying and feeding their families.

This bill passed the Senate with an amendment by voice vote, and failed to pass the House by 230-162, as a 2/3 vote was required for its passage under suspension rules. It has four Senate cosponsors, including two Democrats and two Republicans.


Of NoteNatural cheese is made of milk or milk products (like buttermilk) and involves coagulation. Under this definition, cheeses such as cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, feta, and cheese curds qualify as natural cheese, whereas Velveeta, Kraft Singles, and Cheez Whiz are processed cheese.

U.S. cheese companies have been using the term “natural cheese” for decades, and the IFDA argues that this bill will ensure the term retains its historical meaning and narrows the FDA’s work to defining how the term “natural” is used in food product claims.

AKA

Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions Act

Official Title

A bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to define the term natural cheese.

    It’s the USDA Responsibility To Keep Consumers Informed. Consumers need accurate information about the food products they’re buying in grocery stores. Currently, the lack of definition for “natural cheese product” makes it difficult for consumers to know whether the cheese they’re buying is, in fact, real cheese made with established cheese-making practices. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻🧀🧀🧀👍🏻. 12*22*18......
    Like (52)
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    I’m sure the market can sort out the cheeses just fine without government involvement.
    Like (29)
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    I don’t recall anything in the Constitution regarding power granted to the Federal Government to define cheese
    Like (16)
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    After we define “natural,” advertisers will use a new word.
    Like (14)
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    IT'S NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT JOB TO VOTE ON CHEESE.
    Like (14)
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    Wow. Asking the government what you can call something?
    Like (11)
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    This should be FDA not Congress defining what cheese is
    Like (11)
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    More Government corruption in favor of an unethical industry. The leaders of the dairy industry are realizing that all of the “tobacco marketing” is starting to give way to real science and scientific studies, and dairy products are not looking so healthy anymore. As Republicans, we want Government to stay out of our corrupt business practices, but we want Government to step in and tell other competitors what they can do with their businesses and we will take all the Government entitlements and keep taking. We will also dump our milk to raise prices and we will inject our livestock full of chemicals that make them sick, but make us really wealthy. We do not care about Consumers, only their dollars.
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    How about they define the American official language instead of defining Natural Cheese.
    Like (7)
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    Get real! With all the crap going on and cheese????!!!
    Like (7)
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    What a waste of taxpayer funds. People, think for yourselves!
    Like (7)
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    YES, a true, unadulterated definition of natural cheese IS VERY IMPORTANT to protect consumers from “processed cheese products” masquerading as cheese. The INTEGRITY of our foods is important for health!
    Like (6)
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    We don’t need the government to regulate every single thing we do every day of our lives and everything we encounter in life. Just another way to add more taxes.
    Like (6)
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    FDA should make sure everything is labeled correctly
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    Good grief! What a waste of time and resources. Read people.
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    Really? The freakin government is shut down and you want to talk about the ‘curd’ act? Not Gouda.
    Like (5)
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    Read labels. That’s all you need to do. Keep yourself educated.
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    Actually yes. First off non-pasteurized cheeses can be dangerous to an unborn baby. Secondly these things called “cheese food” or “cheese product” have all kinds of stuff like vegetable oil and worse in them and little to no actual dairy. There are good reasons to know the difference and have it on the label accordingly.
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    What the heck? We all are too stupid to understand what we like? Sounds like a dairy lobby payoff to me. They are also trying to make it illegal to use the word milk unless it comes from a teat
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    I don't want to have to check the lable when I buy cheese to make sure it is only cheese and not wood shavings or a million chemicals. It's incredible that thisis not already a protection for consumers
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