Senator Elder Vogel’s measure updating “sell by” and “best by” date labeling for pasteurized milk was signed into law on Wednesday (June 30). Senate Bill 434, now Act 62 of 2021, goes into effect in 30 days.
Currently, Pennsylvania 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.
Act 62 will 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 new law sets 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.
“Act 62 levels the playing field and will enable Pennsylvania dairy farmers to be more competitive with those of other states. The 17-day requirement in Pennsylvania is not realistic when it comes to milk’s actual shelf life,” said Senator Vogel, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. “In addition, most consumers rank freshness, as determined by the date code indicated, as the most important attribute when purchasing milk. The current sell by date system is not reflective of the actual quality of Pennsylvania milk, so this new system is truly a step forward.”
Click for audio of Senator Vogel’s comments on his bill.
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