A family of dairy farmers is suing the Food and Drug Administration over a requirement to label their natural skim milk as “imitation milk” due to a failure to add vitamins to their product.
“If I want to sell my customers natural skim milk, the government will make me label it in a ridiculous way,” said Randy Sowers, founder of South Mountain Creamery, in a video statement.
South Mountain Creamery’s milk is distinct from most found on grocery store shelves.
Normally, skim milk is sold with vitamins A and D reintroduced into the product that are lost in the skimming, but South Mountain Creamery has refused to synthetically add vitamins to their skim milk. According to FDA policy, this milk must be sold with a label designating it as an “imitation skim milk product.”
“Does the government have the power to override common sense and force American businesses to lie to their consumers?” asked Rek LeCounte, Institute for Justice’s Communications Project manager in a press release.
The basis for the lawsuit is on free speech grounds, appealing to the First Amendment. The Institute for Justice is arguing that the FDA is compelling South Mountain Creamery to use incorrect language and purposefully misrepresent their product.
“The government does not have the power to change the meaning of words or ignore common sense,” said Justin Pearson, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, in a press release.
South Mountain Creamery has complied with the FDA’s regulations for years, and treating their milk with vitamins is not financially straining. The objection is purely a matter of principal.
“It’s not just us, it’s everybody’s right to know what they’re buying and drinking or eating,” said Randy Sower in an interview with FOX 43 in Harrisburg.
Skim milk is defined as regular milk which has been spun and separated from the thicker, more vitamin-rich milkfat found in 1%, 2%, and whole milk products. Because a major portion of the vitamins are in the milkfat, skim milk is less healthful to drink. The FDA requires that skim milk have vitamins artificially added back into the product to make up the difference. Drinks that don’t follow that process cannot be called skim milk, legally speaking.
“The FDA is creating confusion where there was none whatsoever. People know what skim milk means, but they have no idea what ‘imitation milk product’ means. Pure, all-natural skim milk is not an ‘imitation’ of anything,” said Justin Pearson.