Court: Florida dairy's skim milk is skim milk, not imitation

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By: Julie Montanaro
March 20, 2017

A federal appeals court issued a decision late Monday afternoon in a battle over skim milk.

The opinion says the State of Florida cannot stop Ocheesee Dairy in Calhoun County from labeling its all natural skim milk as skim milk.

The state argued unsuccessfully that the dairy has to inject vitamins A and D into the milk to label it and sell it as skim milk in Florida.

In its ruling, the appeals court said the dairy's use of skim milk was not unlawful or misleading and merits First Amendment protection.

"The record makes clear that numerous less burdensome alternatives existed and were discussed by the State and the Creamery during negotiations that would have involved additional disclosure without banning the term “skim milk,” the judges said.

“I simply want to tell the truth about what is in the products I sell, and I did not like that government wanted me to lie,” explained Mary Lou Wesselhoeft. “Today’s good news is proof that it is important to stand up for your rights when the government wants you to do something that is wrong.”

By: Associated Press
March 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- An all-natural diary fighting to call its skim milk "skim milk"-- against the wishes of the Florida Department of Agriculture-- has won a victory in federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel on Monday struck down a decision that allowed the state to ban the Ocheesee Creamery from labeling its skim milk as skim milk because it doesn't add vitamins to it. The state wanted the creamery to call it imitation skim milk.

While the state defines skim milk as skim milk with Vitamin A added, the appeals court in Jacksonville said most people think of skim milk as the dictionary defines it: milk with cream removed.

The court said the Panhandle creamery isn't deceiving people when by calling the product skim milk and sent the case back to the district court.

By: Julie Montanaro
January 27, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A battle over skim milk has now spilled into the federal appeals court.

Ocheesee Creamery making its case today to label its organic skim milk as "skim milk."

The state of Florida forbids it, saying it must also include Vitamins A and D to bear that label in the sunshine state.

The dairy is about an hour west of Tallahassee.

It could be months before a decision is made.

By: Julie Montanaro
March 31, 2016

A federal judge rules against a family dairy in Calhoun County.

It's a dairy that's fighting the state of Florida for the right to sell its all natural skim milk.

The battle over labeling focused on the dairy's refusal to inject
Vitamin A.

The state hailed the ruling as a victory for consumers.

We got to Ocheesee Creamery just as workers were bottling half gallons of whole milk in old fashioned glass bottles.

It can't sell skim milk anymore.

The third generation dairy farm in Calhoun County got an ultimatum from the state in 2012 - either inject vitamin A - or label its skim milk "imitation" milk.

The dairy said that's misleading and decided to make a federal case out of it.

"You would think if they want truth in labeling, then that is the truth. It is skim milk at its purest form," said Ocheesee Creamery's Heather Falb.

A district court judge Wednesday sided with the state of Florida saying despite the dictionary definition of "skim milk" both the federal and state governments have a right to set nutritional standards for skim milk and consumers "expect it to have the same vitamin content as whole milk."

The ruling comes more than seven months after the case was argued in Tallahassee's federal court.

"We are pleased with the judge's ruling as this case has always been about ensuring consumers know the nutritional value of the products that they are buying and feeding to their families," said Florida Department of Agriculture Spokesperson Jenn Meale.

The jersey cows on this 160 acre farm are milked twice a day.

Right now the creamery dumps out as much as 400 gallons of skim milk a day because its forbidden to sell it "as is."

The Ocheesee Creamery and its attorney tell us they intend to appeal to a higher court.

"Hopefully that will turn out differently than this one did, but we'll have to wait and see," Falb said.

Ocheesee attorney Justin Pearson says the creamery will appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

That appeal could take months. In the meantime, the dairy will continue to sell whole milk, butter, cream and ice cream.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 31, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A judge agrees with the state of Florida that an all-natural creamery can't call its skim milk "skim milk."

The Ocheesee Creamery sued the state after it issued an order to call its product "imitation skim milk" because it doesn't add vitamins after cream is removed from whole milk. A federal Judge ruled in favor of the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday, saying the creamery can't call it skim milk.

Adding vitamins to skim milk goes against the creamery's all-natural philosophy, and the owners say calling it imitation skim milk would confuse customers. Instead of complying with the state's order, the creamery is dumping thousands of gallons of skim milk down the drain.

The Institute for Justice is suing on behalf of the creamery and plans to appeal the decision.

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