|NEWS RELEASE||March 28, 2014|
Federal Court Rules Dairy Industry Must Release Records on Promotion Tactics
Dairy Management Inc. Checkoff Documents are Subject to Freedom of Information Act, Says U.S. District Court of D.C.
WASHINGTON—A federal court has ruled that the dairy industry must turn over documents related to its secret programs for pushing Americans to drink milk and eat cheese. The suit was brought by the nonprofit Physicians Committee, which alleged that heavy dairy marketing, often under the radar and sometimes involving the U.S. government, is making Americans overweight and harming their health.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, the Physicians Committee requested documents related to Dairy Management Inc.’s administration of the federal dairy checkoff program, which uses funds from dairy producers to convince Americans to consume more dairy products. Dairy Management Inc. refused to provide the documents, forcing the doctors group to bring a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Because Dairy Management Inc. works on contract with the U.S. Government, the court ruled that the industry group has no choice but to treat the documents as public records.
“Consumers deserve to know the truth,” says Mark Kennedy, director of legal affairs for the Physicians Committee. “There’s still a big battle ahead, but this is a huge first step. It will help set a standard that promotion tactics of industry groups that carry out federal food programs must be public.”
Dairy Management Inc. spends millions of dollars working with fast-food chains to develop and actively promote cheese and other fatty, high-calorie foods. Dairy Management Inc. was also behind the claims made in the “Milk Your Diet. Lose Weight” promotions. In 2005, the Physicians Committee petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to stop this campaign, charging that it was false advertising. In response, USDA agreed to discontinue all advertising and other marketing activities involving weight-loss claims.
To speak to Mark Kennedy, Esq., please contact Carrie Clyne at 202-527-7339 or CClyne@pcrm.org.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.