business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has ruled that the state’s retailers and milk processors cannot label dairy products as not being from cows treated with artificial growth hormones.

According to the story, the state’s change in labeling guidelines “is part of a broader effort … to crack down on labels that highlight what is not in a product, such as ‘antibiotic-free’ and ‘pesticide-free’.” State officials say that “the problem with the claim that cows are not treated with synthetic hormones is that there is no way to distinguish between the natural growth hormone in milk and the artificial version,” the Inquirer writes.

One company surprised by the announcement by c-store chain Wawa, which, the paper writes, “just last week joined the rush of retailers and milk processors that say their milk will not be produced with the aid of artificial growth hormones, which are used to boost production … Wawa's label says that the farmers it buys raw milk from have pledged not to use rBST, or recombinant bovine somatotropin.”
KC's View:
I think this is a crock.

Just because federal and state officials say there is no difference between milk from cows that have taken artificial growth hormones and those that have not, I don't think that consumers should be denied this sort of information. People who take words like “natural” and “organic” seriously ought to be able to find out if the cows producing their milk are on artificial “juice,” and it seems completely unreasonable to deny them that information.

This strikes me as the same sort of logic that forbids meat processors from running their own, government-approved tests for mad cow disease and then labeling their products “certified BSE-free.”

Just who gets protected by such rulings? Certainly not the consumer…