Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issues Guidance on Misleading “Absence Claim” Labels for Fluid Milk, Milk Products, and Manufactured Milk Products

Terry Etherton

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has issued important new guidance for labeling of milk, milk products and manufactured dairy products in the Commonwealth. The press release and the guidance are presented below.

Readers of Terry Etherton Blog on Biotechnology appreciate the problems confusion for consumers that is created by the use of deceptive “absence claims” on milk and dairy products. This has been especially evident relative to the marketing efforts employed for differentiating conventional and rbST-free milk.

Concerns have been raised that some labels are misleading consumers by promoting what is NOT in the product. The release issued by PDA makes it clear that “some labels go as far as to tout the absence of substances that cannot lawfully be present in the food to begin with.” I have written about the marketing campaigns waged by some in the dairy industry to differentiate conventional and rbST-free milk using the “smoke and mirrors” of absence claim labels. The action taken by PDA will bring much needed balance and fairness to the market place so that consumers are more accurately informed about the products they are purchasing. This is particularly important to end the deceptive marketing campaigns that have promoted rbST-free milk in the market place, by inferring that it is better than conventional milk. This is an outrage since rbST-free milk does not differ from conventional milk. Well, there is one difference … rbST-free milk is being sold for a whole lot more, and little of the extra profit is being shared with America’s dairy farmers.

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