The Senate approved a measure today (April 28) updating “sell by” and “best by” date labeling for pasteurized milk, according to Senator Elder Vogel, the bill’s prime sponsor. Senate Bill 434 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Currently, Pennsylvania regulation requires milk to be labeled for sale within 17 days of pasteurization. Only two other states have similar “fixed code” dates for milk regulations, thus putting Pennsylvania-produced milk at a competitive disadvantage in the retail sale of milk.
Senate Bill 434 would allow milk processors to apply for Department of Agriculture approval to exceed the 17-day limitation by moving to a science-based “open code” format. The legislation establishes testing requirements and standards, including dairy laboratory criteria, bacterial testing of samples and continued periodic testing, which must be met for milk processors to receive Department approval.
“Consumers rank freshness, as determined by the date code indicated, as the most important attribute when purchasing milk,” said Senator Vogel, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. “The current 17-day requirement is not realistic when it comes down to milk’s actual shelf life. In addition, it makes it impossible for processors to bid to provide milk to those who want to sell through national food suppliers and wholesalers. Those suppliers typically require a longer “sell by” date interval, which prevents Pennsylvania farmers from receiving these contracts. It is important that we level the playing field to enable our dairy farmers to compete in the marketplace.”
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