Slominski Urges Ohio Officials to Rescind Restrictive Labeling Rule
Testifying at a public hearing in Columbus, Ohio, last Wednesday, IDFA Senior Vice President Jerry Slominski urged the state's Department of Agriculture and Food to rescind its recent emergency rule banning the use of absence claims on food product labels. Calling the rule unnecessary, Slominski asked the state to continue to review dairy product labels using the uniform guidelines provided by the Food and Drug Administration.
"Our nation's fifty states have followed these guidelines, with only limited exceptions, for more than a decade," Slominski said in his testimony. "Under the guidelines, processors nationwide understand what can and cannot be placed on a label regarding the use of synthetic hormones. Because the guidelines are imposed federally, processors can market products locally, regionally and nationally."
Others who testified at the hearing include Brendon Cull, director of government relations for The Kroger Company; Brian Riley, plant manager for Reiter Dairy; and Kristen Mullins, president of Midwest Dairy Foods Association. Several member companies also sent letters expressing their opposition to the emergency rule, including Broughton Foods; The Dannon Company; H.P. Hood; National Dairy Holdings; Safeway, Inc.; and Shamrock Foods Company.
On February 7, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland issued the emergency regulation that immediately restricted the right of processors to market dairy products using absence claims regarding the use of artificial hormones. Although the rule will be in effect for 90 days from that date, the state held the hearing to give stakeholders an opportunity to comment before a final decision is made.
According to Slominski, IDFA is witnessing a nationwide campaign to increase the sales of rbST through a state-by-state effort to make labeling requirements so restrictive that absence claims will disappear from dairy products. He argued that consumers are increasingly basing their purchasing decisions on labeling information and they want to know whether dairy products have been produced with milk from cows treated with rbST.
"Let's be clear about one thing: The reason why processors are marketing products with absence claims is simply because consumers are demanding it," Slominski told state officials. "If you don't believe me, just ask parents who buy milk for their children if they prefer milk from cows that have not been treated with artificial hormones."
As the next step in the rule-making process, the emergency regulation now goes to the state's Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review to decide whether it should become permanent. IDFA plans to reach out to committee members during this review period.
IDFA continues to fight similar proposals in other states and will provide updates when they become available. For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative analysis, at email@example.com or 202-220-3553.
To read Slominski's testimony, click here.
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Posted March 17, 2008