MT Board of Livestock to Weigh on Milk Rule

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The following is a press release from the Montana Department of Livestock:

Following a hearing examiner’s proposed decision regarding the State’s 12-day milk labeling rule, the Montana Board of Livestock on Monday said it will “carefully weigh all possible options” before making any rule changes.                                                            

 

“It’s important that we give this issue due process,” said board chair and Hobson rancher Jan French. “We want to thoroughly review all of the available information and issue a decision that is fair and in the best interests of Montana’s milk consumers.”

According to the State’s existing administrative rule (Administrative Rules of Montana 32.8.202[b]), “no grade-A pasteurized milk may be put in any container marked with a sell-by date of more than 12 days after pasteurization.” That rule was challenged in 2008 by Core-Mark International, a Spokane-based wholesale distributor that provides retail products, including milk, to convenience stores.

Core-Mark sued the Board of Livestock and asked a federal court to declare the state’s 12-day labeling rule unconstitutional. The company and the Board of Livestock later agreed to settle the federal case by holding a public hearing and an evidentiary hearing on whether to retain, amend or repeal the 12-day rule.  Core-Mark seeks to replace the State’s present 12-day sell-by date with a sell-by date to be chosen by the processor of the milk.

A hearing examiner in the evidentiary hearing recently recommended that the Board repeal the 12-day rule and not adopt any rule that includes a sell-by date.  The hearing examiner also recommended  that the Board repeal its present rule and adopt a rule allowing milk processers to set their own dates for milk freshness, using such terms as “best by” or “best if used by.”


French said the Board, which meets every two months, doesn’t have a time frame on making a decision.

“We want to be thorough,” she said. “It might take some time, as there is a mountain of information to review from both hearings.”

The previous hearings produced nearly 1,100 pages of oral testimony, legal briefs and scientific evidence regarding the shelf life of milk products.

Source:  Montana Department of Livestock

Posted by Haylie Shipp

 

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