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NEWS RELEASE January 24, 2006

First Hearing in Milk Warning Label Lawsuit

Plaintiffs Want Cartons to Caution Consumers about Lactose Intolerance; Judge Will Hear Oral Arguments on Jan. 31

WASHINGTON—Judge Henry H. Kennedy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments January 31 on a high-profile lawsuit filed by 10 area residents who want labels on milk cartons warning that milk can cause serious digestive illness. The plaintiffs argue that many people are not aware they are lactose intolerant and unwittingly buy milk, only to suffer side effects after drinking it.

Lactose intolerance is the biological norm and mainly affects people of color. But because the condition comes on gradually, most individuals have no idea that milk is the culprit in their painful symptoms. The defendants, including Giant of Maryland and Safeway, do not deny that lactose intolerance is a painful consequence of drinking milk, but are fighting the lawsuit on technical grounds.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose, a normal process that occurs after the age of weaning. For those who are lactose intolerant, drinking milk can result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other painful gastrointestinal symptoms. 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—is lactose intolerant. 

“There is no reason for people to push themselves to drink milk. Milk does not offer any nutrients that cannot be found in a healthier form in other foods,” says Dan Kinburn, Esq., associate general counsel for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), who will argue on behalf of the plaintiffs. “Warning labels would benefit all consumers, providing truthful—yet often unknown—information about a product that can sicken a significant portion of the population.”

WHAT: First hearing in lawsuit over milk warning labels; both sides will give oral argument on the defendants’ motion to dismiss.
WHEN: Tuesday, January 31; hearing tentatively scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
WHERE:  U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, courtroom of Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. 333 Constitution Avenue, Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit was filed October 6, 2005, by Milton Mills, M.D., and nine others who are suing on behalf of all D.C. residents who are lactose intolerant and not aware of it.

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.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

 Dan Kinburn, Esq.
Dan Kinburn, Esq.
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