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 Pennsylvania milk labeling 
by Organic Trade Association - 1/17/2008

Organic farmers and processors pleased with
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture milk labeling decision

GREENFIELD, Mass. (Jan. 17, 2008)- Pennsylvania's revised milk labeling standards issued today rescind prior controversial standards guidance that could have adversely affected the labels on organic milk, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) noted. As a result, organic milk can continue to carry verified production-based claims, including that the milk was produced without the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), a genetically engineered growth hormone used to stimulate milk production. These labels are sometimes characterized as "absence claims" because they describe truthfully what is not used in the production of the product.

Also, because of the strong practices required by the federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, today's action by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reaffirmed that organic products will not be required to carry the rBST disclaimer that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has mandated since 1994 for non-organic milk products produced without rBST.

"OTA is pleased that organic product labels will continue to inform consumers about organic production practices. No organic dairy farmer uses rBST," said OTA's Executive Director Caren Wilcox.

Drawn up by its Bureau of Food Safety, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's controversial Oct. 22 standards guidance, which also had included antibiotic and pesticide absence claims, prompted a broad outcry from the organic community and many others. The department action today addresses only claims related to the absence of rBST.

The revised document allows for a transition period under which any labels now in the marketplace that do not conform to the new policy can continue to be used until July 1. Also, it stipulates that should the department disallow any new labels introduced prior to March 1, the company in question would have a four-month grace period to use up old labels. The department said it will consider requests for variances on a case-by-case basis.

Pennsylvania has posted the revised milk labeling standards at

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its more than 1,650 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

Provided by Organic Trade Association on 1/17/2008
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