Appeals court rules skim milk can be called 'skim milk'

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - (AP) -- A small, all-natural dairy isn't being deceptive when it calls its skim milk "skim milk," a federal appeals court has ruled -- a victory for a Florida creamery that fought the state's demand to label the product "imitation" because vitamins aren't added to it.

The ruling overturns a decision last March when a federal judge sided with the Florida Department of Agriculture, which said the Ocheesee Creamery couldn't label its skim milk "skim milk" because the state defines the product as skim milk with Vitamin A added. The state instead said that if the creamery wanted to sell the product, it should label it as "imitation" skim milk.

That didn't sit well with a dairy whose whole philosophy is not to add ingredients to natural products. So instead of complying, the creamery has dumped thousands of gallons of skim milk down the drain rather than label it as an imitation milk product.

"The State was unable to show that forbidding the Creamery from using the term 'skim milk' was reasonable," the three-judge, Jacksonville-based panel wrote in its ruling.

The court said the state disregarded far less restrictive and more precise ways of labeling the product, "for example, allowing skim milk to be called what it is and merely requiring a disclosure that it lacks vitamin A."

The Institute for Justice is representing Ocheesee Creamery owner Mary Lou Wesselhoeft in the lawsuit against the state.

"All Mary Lou wants to do is sell skim milk that contains literally one ingredient -- pasteurized skim milk -- and label it as pasteurized skim milk," Institute for Justice lawyer Justin Pearson said in a press release.

The creamery, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of the state capital, has offered to put on its label that it doesn't add vitamins to the product, but the state hasn't accepted the compromise. It was selling between 100 and 300 gallons (380 to 1,140 liters) of skim milk a week for $5 a gallon before the dispute. The product made up about 25 percent of its profits.

The dictionary definition of skim milk is simply milk with the cream removed. But the Department of Agriculture says under state and federal law, skim milk can't be sold as skim milk unless vitamins in the milk fat are replaced so it has the same nutritional value as whole milk.

The department didn't immediately return phone calls and an email seeking comment.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Trending Video

A house in Manalapan caught fire after it 1 House catches fire on Dancer Lane in Manalapan
On a busy Friday morning, just seconds before 2 Good Samaritan saves woman's life, gets robbed in Edison
The owner of Jewelry Expo in Union Township 3 Sleight-of-hand thieves steal $10K worth of jewelry
Officials say the 15-year-old jumped off a ledge 4 Police save teen from drowning in Prospect Park
Comic book artists, cartoonists, classic TV stars and 5 East Coast Comic Con draws fans to the Meadowlands

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Features

It's good to know you have Walt Kane Kane in Your Corner

It's good to know you have Walt Kane in your corner.

News 12 takes a look at the hottest Tech Check

Eric Landskroner has a look at the latest gadgets and biggest stories in tech.

News 12 On the Scene

Check out these exclusive videos from New Jersey celebs!

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE