Ohio Is No Longer Pursuing Regulations to Restrict Organic Labeling on Dairy Products
As of late October 2011, Ohio is no longer pursuing regulations to restrict representations and statements made on organic dairy products. It seems the state of Ohio was previously concerned with statements on organic dairy product packaging that claimed products were made without the introduction or use of antibiotics, pesticides, or synthetic hormones. Ohio regulators believed such labeling representations were misleading to consumers and somewhat of an overstatement. Officials instead favored regulatory restrictions on the content of such representations and claims on dairy packaging, so as to alleviate consumer confusion.
Ohio’s Rescinded Regulation Disallowing Hormone, Antibiotic, Pesticide-Free Organic Dairy Product Labeling Attracted National Attention
Several consumer and organic food trade groups believed Ohio’s proposed regulations exceeded applicable federal standards issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for claims of the absence of chemicals, additives, pesticides, and the like. In fact, some even protested that constitutional freedoms of commercial speech were abridged by the proposed overly stringent restrictions.
In particular, like many, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) was (and remains) fixated upon the developments transpiring in Ohio. OTA highlighted the significance of Ohio’s decision to drop regulatory restrictions on organic labeling for dairy products by commenting on the importance of organic foods to many consumers. The OTA stressed painstaking efforts consumers undertake to read and study food labels, and learn the contents of their food and what goes into its production.
Organic Trade Association’s Lawsuit in Sixth Circuit over First Amendment Freedoms
In fact, OTA filed a lawsuit in the Sixth Circuit several years ago over proposed organic dairy product labeling restrictions in Ohio. That circuit’s Court of Appeals ultimately held that the proposed labeling limitations violate the First Amendment’s commercial free-speech liberties. Not surprisingly, as a result of the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, Ohio dropped its efforts to restrict dairy producers in the content of their organic product labeling. Now, dairy producers in the Buckeye State can promote that their organic products are manufactured under federal organic standards in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act, all without the inclusion of synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. As such, it is up to the consumer to read, study, and evaluate organic dairy product food labels in making individual purchase and consumption decisions, without overly restrictive regulations on the part of their state government .
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