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Pennsylvania Ag Department Notifies Dairy Firms of Misleading Labels

Oct 29, 2007

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Notifies Dairy Firms of Misleading Labels

On October 22, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture notified 16 dairies selling milk in the state that their product labels with antibiotic or rBST "absence claims" were found to be false and misleading. On the same day, the department issued a memo to these companies to clarify and standardize the state's label-approval process for milk products.

The labels that were deemed misleading included claims such as "No Hormones," "Free of Antibiotics and the Growth Hormone rBST" and "Our Farmers Pledge No Artificial Growth Hormones. Milk from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH."

The notifications followed the department's request for all milk permit holders in the state to resubmit labels for review. The request is in keeping with existing regulations (7 Pa Code § 59.21 (d)) that require labels for all milk and milk products to be submitted to the department for approval.

In its memo clarifying the label-approval process, the department outlined a new policy that will prohibit label statements relating to compositional claims, such as "no hormones" or "no antibiotics," that have not been confirmed through laboratory analysis. In addition, the memo stated that compositional or production-related claims that are supported solely by sworn statements, affidavits or testimonials will also be prohibited.

According to the memo, all labels, regardless of previous approvals, will be reviewed and approved in accordance with guidelines set forth in the correspondence beginning on January 1, 2008. To read the memo, click here.

IDFA believes that the department's prohibition of production-related statements that are based on affidavits, such as "Our Farmers' Pledge No Artificial Growth Hormones," warrants further clarification. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed these types of claims in accordance with its guidance on labeling milk and milk products from cows not treated with rBST, which was issued in 1994. To read the FDA guidance, click here.

Companies that received denial letters have 15 days to request an administrative hearing to contest the decision.

Members that would like additional information should contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, at 202-220-3543 or, or Michelle Matto, IDFA assistant director of regulatory affairs, at 202-220-3523 or,

To read the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's press release on this notification, click here.



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Posted October 29, 2007


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