Pennsylvania Surprises Wawa with Ban on Hormone Labels

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Pennsylvania Surprises Wawa with Ban on Hormone Labels

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recently banned increasingly popular milk labels that tout the product's source from cows that were not treated with artificial growth hormones, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The move came as a surprise to Wawa Inc., operator of 570 convenience stores, which announced a week prior that it’s milk is not produced with the aid of the artificial hormones, and its products would sport labels indicating that, the report stated.

"Early on, we've had some positive feedback," Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce told the paper. "We think that consumers want to know."

The label states Wawa buys milk from farmers that have pledged not to use artificial growth hormone rBST, or recombinant bovine somatotropin, and includes a notice that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found no significant difference between milk from treated and untreated cows, according to the report.

CSNews Online reported last week that Wawa will now only purchase raw milk from farmers who will pledge and sign legal affidavits stating they will not use artificial growth hormones on their cows, and customers will see the "farmers' pledge" on a seal on labels of all Wawa dairy products.

The ban on labels is part of a broader effort by the state's agriculture department, which seeks to eliminate labels that highlight what is not in a product, such as "antibiotic-free" and "pesticide-free," the report stated.

The department examined labels from 140 companies and notified 16 companies to correct their labels by Jan. 1, the Inquirer reported. Labels needing correction made claims that cows were not injected with synthetic growth hormones, while three also include a "no antibiotics" claim, according to the report.

"Antibiotic-free" and "pesticide-free" claims are misleading, as all processed milk sold in the state is tested a minimum of 10 times for such substances, which are not permitted in milk, Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said in a statement cited by the newspaper. He added that the concern is that there is no way to distinguish between the natural growth hormone in milk and the artificial version, the report stated.