This post originally appeared on Reason.com and is reposted with permission.
When is pure, all-natural, pasteurized skim milk not skim milk? When a federal court says so.
Ocheesee Creamery is a small creamery in Florida's Panhandle that's owned by Mary Lou Wesselhoeft and her husband, Paul. The creamery caters to "health-conscious milk drinkers—people who demand an all-natural product with nothing added—no preservatives, no nutrients that don't come straight from the cow."
Last week a federal judge ruled that because Ocheesee doesn't add vitamin A to its milk, Florida may prohibit the creamery from labeling its skim milk as "skim milk."
Ocheesee's problems began in fall 2012, when a Florida state agriculture department inspector suddenly ordered Ocheesee to stop selling its skim milk. The inspector hadn't found any food safety problems at the creamery. Instead, he determined that the issue with Ocheesee's additive-free skim milk was not what it contained but what it didn't contain—mandatory additives. Ocheesee's skim milk was just too natural.
It turns out that Florida's standard of identity for skim milk, which governs milk obtained and sold entirely within the state (and which apes FDA rules), requires that creameries and dairies add vitamin A to their skim milk. The inspector wrote on his stop-sale order, which effectively rendered Ocheesee's skim milk as contraband, the sole reason for his determination: "FAILURE TO ADD VITAMIN A."
Ocheesee offered to label its skim milk as "Pasteurized Skim Milk, No Vitamin A Added." The state balked, telling the creamery it must add vitamin A in order to call its skim milk "skim milk." Or, the state said, Ocheesee could sell its skim milk without adding vitamin A. But it would have to label the skim milk as "Non-Grade 'A' Milk Product, Natural Milk Vitamins Removed." There could be no mention of "skim milk" on the label.
Continue reading the full post on Reason.com.