Editorial Comment Publisher/Editor


Dairy Industry Has Always Attracted Cheaters, And Always Will

Dick Groves
Cheese Reporter Publishing Co., Inc.
dgroves@cheesereporter.com 608-316-3791

October 13, 2017


Ever since the late 1800s, the US dairy industry has chosen to be regulated by state and/or the federal government, in part to protect the industry from dishonesty in the production and marketing of dairy products. All these years, laws and regulations later, the industry is still being victimized by cheaters.

The latest example, reported on our front page this week, involves evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. The American Dairy Products Institute has brought to the attention of the US Food and Drug Administration the production, importation, and sale of condensed milk and evaporated milk that don’t meet the express terms of the relevant standards of identity.

ADPI submits that such products are displacing and thereby causing injury to manufacturers of compliant dairy products, as well as consumers of such products, who purchase them under the assumption that they are made in full conformity with the federal standards.

And so it continues: the dairy industry supporting regulations and laws intended to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interests of both the industry itself and consumers, and some unscrupulous folks trying to make a buck or two through dishonesty and unfair dealing, also known as cheating.

So how long has this cheating been going on? At least since the 1880s, according to the First Annual Report of the State Dairy and Food Commissioner of Wisconsin, which was published in 1890.

The Wisconsin legislature of 1889 had passed an act creating the office of Dairy and Food Commissioner. The commissioner’s duty was to, among other things, enforce all laws regarding the production, manufacture and sale of dairy products, or the adulteration of any article of food or drink or of any drug.

Here’s a brief excerpt from a section on cheese in that annual report:
“Sixty million pounds of cheese is annually made in this state. There is not an article of commerce that requires greater skill in handling in order to secure favorable markets. No industry has been so perverted. No business exists that has been so basely manipulated, and no article of food has been so degraded by counterfeiters. In no time has the honest manufacturer met with such dishonest competition.”

Then there was oleomargarine. Here’s what that 1890 report had to say, in part, about butter’s competitor: “No man can live in a business sense and place his butter in competition with tallow and cotton seed oil so manipulated that it requires an expert chemist to detect the difference between the compound and dairy butter. It is not clear that we should prohibit the manufacture of any mixture that is not injurious to health, but we should strip oleomargarine of its power, and that can only be done by obliging manufacturers to make it look like itself and not like butter.

“Butter has worked all these years to make for itself a market and a demand. Now that they are established it should not be robbed by an imitation. The attack has but just begun...Oleomargarine is a fraud. It would not be tolerated a day by the public if every one who eats it could know. Ninety-nine out of every hundred pounds of oleo-butter that is consumed is so consumed under the supposition that it is honest butter.”

Fast-forward 127 years, and ADPI is bringing to the attention of FDA (an agency, for what it’s worth, whose modern regulatory functions began with the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act) the production, importation, and sale of condensed milk and evaporated milk that don’t meet the express terms of the relevant standards of identity.

And it’s not just dairy products themselves that are being fraudulently marketed. It’s also the equipment used to make them.

Last year, it may be recalled, 3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. issued an alert to call attention to the misuse of its trademarked 3-A Symbol. The 3-A Symbol was being displayed by several Chinese companies without the authorization of 3-A SSI, which licenses use of the 3-A Symbol to fabricators around the world to identify equipment that meets 3-A Sanitary Standards for design and fabrication.

The unauthorized use and display of the 3-A Symbol is misleading and potentially damaging to customers who select such products with the understanding the equipment has been verified to meet the criteria of a 3-A Sanitary Standard, 3-A SSI said.

What is it about dairy products, and equipment used to make dairy products, that prompts such dishonesty? Money. That’s really all this boils down to.

And it’s been that way forever. Here’s another excerpt from that 1890 report: “The clamor of our people for cheaper food, for cheaper wear and for cheaper everything has had a pernicious result upon the purity of articles offered for sale by our tradesmen. The people ask for low-priced foods and in many cases the merchants are unable to supply the demand with an honest article, and fraud is resorted to. The merchants, in turn, must have the goods that are called for and the manufacturer is drawn into the gap and makes the spurious article.

“Although the public, in a large measure, is responsible for the situation, the state steps in and volunteers to protect the consumer. A man may cry never so loud for cheap foods, but an instance is yet to be cited where he has called for fraudulent food, and it is no more than just that he should receive what he assumes he is paying his money for.”

They say cheaters never prosper but, given how large the dairy industry has become, it’s probably a safe bet that cheaters will continue to try to prosper in the dairy business.

Cheese Reporter welcomes letters to the editor. Comments should be sent to: Dick Groves by Fax at (608) 246-8431; or e-mail your comments to
dgroves @cheesereporter.com.



Dick Groves

Dick Groves has been publisher/editor of Cheese Reporter since 1989. He has over 35 years experience covering the dairy industry. His weekly editorial is read and referenced throughout the world.
For more information, call 608-316-3791 dgroves@cheesereporter.com

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