PCRM 2005: The Year in Review: Got Warning Labels?
Milk doesn’t do a body good—especially if you’re lactose intolerant. To help educate the public that milk can cause serious digestive illness, PCRM filed a class action lawsuit in October in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, calling for all milk cartons sold in D.C. to carry labels warning of milk’s possible side effects.
PCRM filed the lawsuit on behalf of all D.C. residents against major grocery stores and dairy producers, including Safeway, Giant of Maryland, Stonyfield Farm, and Dean Foods. On behalf of 10 plaintiffs, including a 7-year-old boy and a PCRM member physician, PCRM lawyers argued that many people are not aware they are lactose intolerant and often undergo extensive medical testing for infections and metabolic problems, all of which would be unnecessary if the dairy industry would provide simple warnings about milk’s unexpected effects.
Lactose intolerance is a normal condition found in approximately 75 percent of the world’s population, including 60 to 80 percent of African Americans, 50 to 80 percent of Latinos, and at least 90 percent of Asian Americans and Native Americans. People with lactose intolerance are—like all mammals—unable to digest the milk sugar lactose after weaning. Symptoms include diarrhea and severe abdominal pain.
The lawsuit captured the media’s attention, including that of The Washington Post and the Associated Press, which helped educate hundreds of thousands of Americans about this issue.