TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State regulators took on a third generation family-owned dairy farm in one of Florida’s smallest counties and gave it an offer the owners had to refuse: call a natural milk item imitation milk or inject it with additives.
When Mary Lou Wesselhoeft, owner of the Ocheese Creamery, didn’t comply, the result was a stop sale order issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
That was two years ago.
Now, Wesselhoeft is taking on regulators with the help of the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm. A federal lawsuit filed last week accuses state officials of infringing on the small business’s First Amendment rights by forcing it to mislead its customers.
In 2012, new food labeling regulations no longer allowed the Ocheesee Creamery’s natural pasteurized skim milk to be called “pasteurized skim milk.” Instead, state officials insisted the creamery call it “Non-Grade ‘A’ Milk Product, Natural Milk Vitamins Removed.”