For Immediate Release
||Peggy Armstrong 202-220-3508202-431-1113
Consumer Concerns Largely Ignored in Ohio's
Revised Rule on Dairy Labels
Opposition Grows Among Dairy Processors, Ohio Businesses and Consumer Groups
(Washington, D.C. April 8, 2008) Ohio's Department of Agriculture continues to champion state-imposed rules that will severely restrict consumer information on dairy labels despite growing opposition from dairy processors, Ohio grocery chains, and consumer and environmental organizations, as well as Ohio consumers, according to testimony submitted today by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). IDFA represents hundreds of dairy processors across the nation, and 22 dairy processing companies with facilities in the state of Ohio, including Kroger, Reiter Dairy and Smith Dairy.
According to IDFA's testimony, Ohio's Refiled Rule 901:11-8-01 continues to be unwanted by consumers, unnecessarily burdensome for processors and unlikely to restore a market for dairy farmers who use synthetic hormones.
"Despite the department's efforts to convince consumers that there is a problem, there has been little if any public outcry for the state to mandate the appearance and content of current labels," IDFA said in its testimony. "To the contrary, we believe that the department and the state of Ohio have heard from hundreds of consumers who have voiced opposition to the department's efforts to restrict dairy labels and very few proponents, by comparison."
Ohio's business community, which was strongly opposed to the rule when it was introduced on an emergency basis earlier this year, remains strongly opposed to the new proposal, believing that it infringes on its right to commercial free speech and impedes interstate commerce. IDFA is joined by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Organic Trade Association and the Midwest Dairy Foods Association in its opposition to the new labeling restrictions.
In today's testimony, IDFA argues that the refiled rule violates the right of dairy processors to exercise commercial free speech. "It is settled legal doctrine that a government restriction on commercial free speech must be 'narrowly tailored' and no more restrictive than necessary to achieve its purpose," states IDFA's testimony. "This doctrine has been established in the U.S. Supreme Court and applied repeatedly in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which includes Ohio. As described above, the details of the refiled rule remain too restrictive and go well beyond what was contemplated by the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) guidance document."
The testimony continues to state that the refiled rule is an impediment to interstate commerce. "Under the Commerce Clause a state may not impose an unreasonable impediment to interstate commerce. Indeed, a state regulation like the Ohio refiled rule, which would prohibit label claims from being made in Ohio that are readily accepted by most other states, would be particularly vulnerable to legal challenge, especially given the multi-state and even national distribution of many dairy products. This standard has also been articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court and applied in the Sixth Circuit as well as other jurisdictions."
Saying that the refiled rule "is unnecessary and its fiscal analysis is incomplete, "IDFA urges the department not to adopt Refiled Rule 901:11-8-01 and to continue to allow dairy product labels using the guidelines provided by FDA. To read IDFA's testimony, click here.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, DC, represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 530 companies representing a more than $100-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85% of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. IDFA can be found online at www.idfa.org