The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made the rule change, effective 16 December, in reponse to an application by Kraft. The FDA is asking for written objections to the amendment to be submittedbefore 16 December.
The move by Kraft is part of a plan by the company to target the growing market for healthier foods. Kraft Foods is following a previously announced plan to cut calories, fats and sugar across itsproduct line, end in-school marketing and re-examine portion sizes. Under the guidance of a global council of advisers, Kraft also said it will review the nutritional content of every product.
Before the rule change on vitamin D, milk products, which include cheese and cheese products, could be fortified with vitamin D at a level up to 89 International Units (IU) per 100 grams.
Kraft asked that the maximum amount of vitamin D permitted in certain natural and processed cheeses be increased to 81 IU vitamin D3 per 30g, or almost three times the previous level.
The new limit would permit processors to add vitamin D at a level slightly more than 20 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI). Under the food regulations products containing 10 to 19 percent of the RDI of a nutrient is allowed to carry a label claim such as 'good source'.
If the level is 20 percent or more of the RDI, the food label may claim it is an 'excellent source' of the nutrient.
The products include natural cheeses, processed cheese, cream cheese, and cheese spreads and dips. Hard grating cheeses with smaller reference amounts, such as Parmesan and Romano, and thosedefined by the standards of identity are not included in the rule change.
Other cheeses with larger reference amounts, such as cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, are also not included in the changes.
Under the US food law vitamin D3 is approved for use as a nutrient supplement in calcium-fortified fruit juices, calcium-fortified fruit juice drinks, meal replacement and other-type bars, andsoy-protein based meal replacement beverages meant for special dietary use in reducing or maintaining body weight.
Vitamin D can also be added to infant formula and margarine. Naturally occurring sources of vitamin D include such foods as butter, buttermilk, cheese, cream, eggs, fish, goat milk, meat fatsandorgan meats, and mushrooms.
Vitamin D functions to maintain blood serum concentrations of calcium and phosphorus by aiding in the absorption of the minerals from the small intestine. Vitamin D deficiency can lead toabnormalities in calcium and bone metabolism such as rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults.
As Vitamin D can also be toxic at high levels of intake Kraft was required to provided information on vitamin D intake estimates for consumers of cheese and cheese products.