State of Ohio withdraws dairy labeling reg

by Keith Nunes
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COLUMBUS, OHIO — The state of Ohio has withdrawn a dairy labeling regulation implemented in May 2008 that made it unlawful for dairy product marketers in the state to promote “free-from” claims without proper verification. The regulation also made it illegal for marketers to promote the absence of a compound not permitted in dairy products by the Food and Drug Administration.

The regulation was the subject of lawsuits by groups such as the International Dairy Foods Association and the Organic Trade Association. Initially, a lower court upheld the state’s right to require labeling requirements more stringent than federal guidelines, but in 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Specifically, the appeals court ruled that the Ohio regulation’s absolute ban on compositional claims, such as “rBST-free,” violated a marketer’s First Amendment rights.

“We’re pleased that the state of Ohio has agreed to withdraw its rule and allow our members to continue to make truthful and not misleading claims on their products,” said Clay Hough, senior group vice-president for the I.D.F.A. “The agreement upholds our members’ constitutional rights and eliminates an impediment to the marketing of dairy products across state lines.”
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