The organic dairy industry won the right to label products with health claims in the State of Ohio this week, when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found the state’s rule restricted free speech and was therefore unconstitutional.
In 2008, Ohio issued a regulation restricting farmers and organic milk marketers from stating organic milk is produced without antibiotics, pesticides or synthetic hormones. It is the only state to do so.
The rule said: "Making claims regarding the composition of milk with respect to hormones, such as ‘No Hormones,’ ‘Hormone Free,’ ‘rbST Free,’ ‘rbGH Free,’ ‘No Artificial Hormones’ and ‘bST Free,’ is false and misleading. The Ohio Department of Agriculture will not permit such statements on any dairy product labels."
The Organic Trade Association and International Dairy Food Association file suit, with collaboration from Horizon, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm.
In the ruling, the court said that states can’t restrict organic labels or consumers’ right to know about how food is produced.
"This outcome should send a message to state regulators about allowing organic producers and farmers to label their products accurately and fairly, with the information consumers want and deserve to know about what is-and isn’t-included in a product," says Sara Loveday at WhiteWave (which owns Horizon).