August 14, 1997
SETTLEMENT PROTECTS ILLINOIS CONSUMERS
FROM MISLEADING FOOD LABELS
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Illinois consumers will be protected from false and misleading food labeling under terms of a legal settlement announced today by Dr. John R. Lumpkin, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Three dairy companies that challenged Illinois labeling laws have agreed not to make assertions about ingredients in their product that cannot be substantiated.
"This agreement underscores the Department's long-standing position that food manufacturers must be able to prove claims they intend to make on their food products or the language cannot be included on the packaging," Dr. Lumpkin said.
The companies, Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., Burlington, Vt.; Stonyfield Farm, a New Hampshire yogurt producer; and Organic Valley Farms, a Wisconsin dairy cooperative, had sought to include "rBGH Free" on their labels. Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is a synthetic version of BGH, a hormone that occurs naturally in cows and stimulates the production of milk.
The Department refused a spring 1996 request by the three companies to allow labeling of their products in Illinois as "rBGH free" because there is no laboratory method that can
verify that the milk was produced without use of the synthetic hormone. The companies then filed a lawsuit against the Department in U.S. District Court.
Under terms of the settlement, the dairy companies may include a statement that reads -- "We oppose rBGH. The family farmers who supply our milk pledge not to treat their cows with rBGH." The label, however, also must say: "The FDA has said no significant difference has been shown and no test can now distinguish between milk from rBGH treated and untreated cows."
In addition, when the product includes other ingredients such as milk chocolate or dried milk products, the label will include: "Not all suppliers of our other ingredients can promise that the milk they use comes from untreated cows."
The Department will allow the companies to use their package labels to express their opposition to a synthetic hormone used by some dairy farmers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of rBGH in 1993 and it became available commercially in February 1994. When injected into cows, rBGH can increase milk production by 15 percent to 25 percent.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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