Posts tagged with: julianne malveaux

It looks like Julianne Malveaux is going to have to expand her complaint against the labeling of milk to a whole new spate of products, including yogurt. It may be that the whole scope of items coming from the dairy industry is going to be affected.

Here’s the label off a yogurt container that I ate out of last week:


Malveaux is concerned that this kind of labeling, which she argues deceives the consumer into thinking that the product approximates “organic” certification, makes people spend extra money uselessly.

Now it so happens that Stonyfield Yogurt is also USDA Organic, as certified by a little logo on the side of the container (while Land O’Lakes milk is not certified organic). But despite that fact, the fact that the yogurt is organic is not the information that the label on the top is touting. It’s proclaiming the virtue of having added no artificial hormones to the cows.

Is Malveaux right about the morality of labeling something “No rBST added”? Does her claim only apply if the item isn’t organic?

Let’s hear from some marketing professionals. Do marketers have an obligation only to include information on their labels that an average consumer might find relevant?

Is the fact that rBST has not been added to cows producing particular dairy products a relevant piece of datum for the consumer? And if it’s not relevant, then why do “organic regulations prohibit the use of antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones”?

Perhaps it should be up to the consumer to decide the relevance. Just a thought.

On last week’s Huffington Post blog, Dr. Julianne Malveaux decries the practices of milk “charlatans,” who she claims, “combine the concern about pesticides and additives with their own desire to grab hold of the profits available to those who can distinguish the food they produce from ‘ordinary’ food.”

Malveaux argues that milk producers who identify their products as “hormone-free” are being dishonest and misrepresenting the truth. She says, “Animals produce hormones. Whether milk production is enhanced by rBST, a synthetic version of the bovine hormone cows naturally produced, or not, it is not ‘hormone free’.” Because the “organic” label meets certain Dept. of Agriculture requirements, for Malveaux it means something, while claims of “hormone-free” milk don’t.

The concern for Malveaux is that consumers are being exploited: “The difference comes when a consumer, concerned that her newborn is ingesting too many chemicals, decides to go with the ‘hormone free’ milk at an extra dollar a carton, and gets nothing different than if she’d chosen a carton that does not say ‘hormone free.’ The consumer’s fears are being exploited. She’s reading a label, but not seeing the fine print. Hormone free milk is presented as being ‘better’ or ‘safer’ than milk produced using rBST. But it isn’t!”

Here’s what the cap on a gallon of milk I bought yesterday says:

Is this misleading? I don’t think so. I don’t see claims of “hormone free” milk. The label simply says there aren’t any synthetic hormones added and even points out that “no significant difference” has been shown between the two kinds of milk.

Are consumers not responsible for educating themselves? Shouldn’t they take some more time before deciding to spend $1 more per gallon, and if they want to spend more for peace of mind, shouldn’t they be allowed that freedom?

Malveaux’s piece follows the work of a group called the National Organization for African Americans in Housing (NOAAH), a non-profit advocate for low-income citizens, which last December “called on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to stop dairy processors from deceptively marketing ‘no rBST’ milk.”

Malveaux and the NOAAH want to protect people from themselves by expanding the role of a nanny government: “Low-income consumers, especially, wanting the best for their kids are pushed into spending money they can ill afford for a product that is exactly the same as a cheaper product. It’s time for the FDA to step in to require dairy processors to do the right thing.”

What exactly is the right thing? Should the FDA require labels like the one above? Or should they ban advertising that states a true fact: there are no hormones added to the cows that made this milk. As it stands, the relevance and importance of that fact is up for the individual consumer to decide. And that’s as it should be.