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Efforts to Lower Milk Quality Defeated Senate Action Protects Consumers and Children.

Business/News Editors

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 26, 2000

In a major victory for California consumers and taxpayers, the State Senate today overwhelmingly defeated two pieces of legislation that threatened to lower California's longstanding milk quality and nutrition standards. Each measure received only one yes vote, that of the author.

Senate Bills 2163 and 2164 by Senator Debra Bowen, sought to lower or eliminate the state's milk quality standards over the strong objections of leading health and nutrition professionals. The measures were sponsored by out-of-state dairy interests who are seeking to gain a competitive advantage in California. Health and nutrition experts effectively argued that the measures threatened to increase the incidence of chronic disease such as osteoporosis and dramatically increase long-term public health care costs.

"Senator Bowen proposed to take the milk out of milk and replace it with additives such as anti-caking agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers and artificial whiteners," said Michael Boccadoro, executive director of Californians for Nutritious Milk. He added, "The legislature has clearly recognized that efforts to lower our milk quality and nutrition standards are ill-conceived and will ultimately do nothing more than harm those who benefit from them the most, our school children."

Leading health, nutrition and osteoporosis organizations such as the California Department of Health Services, California Dietetic Association and the Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education all agree that lowering California's milk quality and nutrition standards will do great harm to the health of our state's citizens. At a Senate hearing last December, the California Department of Health Services, the agency that administers the WIC program in the state, testified that "...lowering calcium in milk may result in increased rates of such chronic diseases as osteoporosis, hypertension and colorectal cancer. Related health care costs to the Department and State will rise significantly in relation to an increase in chronic diseases... The Department believes, therefore, that maintaining the higher standard for milk fortification is beneficial from a public health perspective."

"California consumers have come to understand milk as a wholesome, natural source of calcium and other nutrients. Allowing milk to be adulterated with non-milk ingredients is a serious step backward for consumers and public health in California," said Jo Ann Hattner, one of the state's most well respected pediatric dietitians, who testified about the significant benefits of California's milk standards. "Children today simply are not getting enough calcium. Reducing the calcium levels found in milk simply does not make any sense."

Testimony was also given on the out-of-state dairy conglomerate, Shamrock Foods of Arizona, who is pushing the bills. In documentation obtained from the State Attorney General's office, actual chemical analysis of the company's milk being sold in California showed that the milk failed to meet the proposed calcium levels SB 2164 was purporting to establish. Ironically, 12 of Shamrock's milk samples also failed to meet the lower existing federal standards.

"The legislature has once again expressed its deep and committed support for this state's higher milk quality and nutrition standards," said Boccadoro. "They are sending a very strong message to the California Supreme Court, who is currently reviewing a flawed and controversial lower court ruling that would effectively overturn the state's standards. Hopefully this will be the end of the ill-conceived efforts to lower standards that enjoy broad public support."

Californians for Nutritious Milk is a coalition of leading health, nutrition and education professionals and dairy producers and processors working to ensure that Californians continue to drink the highest quality most nutritious milk in the nation. For more information visit www.californiamilk.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Apr 26, 2000
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