Ohio Relabels Milk for Consumer Protection

US - After claims of foul play and corruption on dairy labelling in Ohio, the Department of Agriculture has modified its labelling rules to a degree that, they say, should protect both processor and consumer.
calendar icon 27 March 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Maintaining its original strong consumer focus, the modified rule reflects changes prompted by written comments submitted to the department as well as by comments provided at a public hearing about the proposed rule held at the department on March 12. The rule deals with what claims may or may not be made on the labels of milk and milk-based products in Ohio.

“Ohio consumers are entitled to accurate and complete information when making decisions about the food products they buy,” Boggs said. “We thoughtfully reviewed all of the comments we received about the proposed rule. We believe that we have developed the proper balance between assuring that consumers receive the information they need and deserve, while imposing the least possible burden on product processors necessary to protect consumer interests.”

The modified proposed rule, which improves upon the 90-day emergency rule expiring on May 7, has several key components. Under the modified rule, milk product labels:

  • Generally may not make “compositional absence claims” like “Hormone Free” or “rbST Free.” These claims are either not provable or disclaim the presence of substances which may not legally be present in milk products.
  • May make accurate “production claims” which reflect the way a dairy product was produced. For example, claims that milk was produced from cows not injected with antibiotics, if true, may appear on the product label.
  • Must include, along with any permissible production claim about the use of rbST, a statement regarding the FDA’s determination that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-supplemented and non-rbST-supplemented cows.
“While some would have preferred that we not include the requirement that rbST production claims also carry with them information about the FDA determination, we believe that it would be misleading to give consumers only one of two critically interconnected pieces of information,” Boggs noted.

Under the modified proposed rule, the FDA determination must appear contiguously to any accurate rbST production claim in a font size no less than one-half the font size of the rbST production claim. Milk product processors will have 120 days to come into compliance with the rule.

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