PCRM Lawsuit Against Dairy Industry Demands Warning Labels

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is bankrolling a class-action lawsuit against the dairy industry demanding that milk carry labels warning consumers of the possible effects of lactose intolerance.

PCRM found 10 plaintiffs, including PCRM advisory board member Milton Mills, to join the suit claiming that they suffered various problems — including cramps and diarrhea — after consuming milk. The plaintiffs are all from the predominantly black city of Washington, D.C. (blacks are more likely to suffer from lactose intolerance as compared to whites).

Mills told the Associated Press,

Lactose intolerance is very prevalence in persons of color. As a physician I see people who are dealing with conditions related to their inability to digest lactose. They’re led to believe they need to include dairy for health benefits. That is not true.

Susan Ruland, vice president for communications at the International Dairy Foods Association, told the Associated Press,

It’s [the lawsuit] just another attempt on the part of an animal rights group to attack dairy and milk products. They’re trying a new strategy of suing people right and left. It’s unfortunate to see that when it has to do with an issue of nutrition.

PCRM’s lawsuit asks for up to $100,000 in damages to the 10 plaintiffs.


Lawsuit Seeks Warning Labels on Milk. Frederic Frommer, Associated Press, October 6, 2005.

Lawsuit targets dairy industry. Marguerite Higgins, The Washington times, October 6, 2005.

Milk May Reduce Risk of Colorectal Cancer — But Then Again, Maybe Not

Researchers conducting a meta-analysis of 10 studies tracking nutritional consumption of half a million people found that consuming a glass of 6 to 8 ounce of milk was correlated with a 12 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer. Those who drank more than a glass a day had a 15 lower relative risk of colorectal cancer. The study was published in the National Cancer Institute Journal.

So should you rush out and start drinking milk in order to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer?

Well, even with such a large group, this is still a very small level of risk reduction by epidemiological standards. As the National Cancer Institute Journal noted in a June editorial,

Where are we, then, with respect to population-level evidence for the calcium–colorectal cancer hypothesis? We have increasingly consistent observational epidemiologic evidence from studies with colorectal cancer end points. We cannot, though, definitively rule out confounding as an explanation for the modest inverse associations seen in these observational epidemiologic studies.

Interestingly, the largest gains for reducing colorectal cancer were among people who took calcium supplements, but the researchers have concerns that high doses of calcium obtained this way could contribute to prostate cancer.


Milk may lower risk of colorectal cancer. Associated Press, July 6, 2004.

Milk helps prevent colon cancer. Health Day, July 6, 2004.

Advancing the Calcium–Colorectal Cancer Hypothesis. Arthur Schatzkin and Ulrike Peters, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 16, 2004.

Schwarzenegger vs. PETA

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in August that Arnold Schwarzenegger had asked People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to remove from their site a quote from Schwarzenegger that appears in the film, “Pumping Iron.”

In the documentary about the Mr. Universe competition, Schwarzenegger tells the filmmakers that “Milk is for babies.”

PETA has a page on its MilkSucks.Com web site in which it tries to link Schwarzenegger’s 26-year-old statement to PETA’s nonsensical claims about milk. In an effort to milk the media phenomenon over the California governor recall effort, PETA also apparently is trying to place a billboard featuring a photograph of Schwarzenegger with the “Milk is for babies” quote.

The Chronicle quoted an unnamed PETA source as saying,

That quote has been up for a long time and we suspect that they’re just trying to get it removed now because he doesn’t want to upset the dairy industry. It’s utterly ridiculous, so to speak.


Arnold’s Campaign Concerns. San Francisco Chronicle, August 12, 2003.

Pumping Iron, Dumping Milk. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Undated.

Wisconsin Legislature Says State Should Investigate, Possibly Sue PETA

Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Suder apparently wants to replicate the Oprah Winfrey/Mad Cow lawsuit fiasco in Wisconsin by asking the state Attorney General to investigate claims made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in ads disparaging milk.

The Badger Herald (Wisconsin) reported that Suder had contacted Wisconsin’s Consumer Protection Legal Division and asked them to investigate whether or not PETA’s claims that milk causes health problems are violating Wisconsin law. Suder told The Badger Herald,

They’ve crossed the line this time. They state in their letter [to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle] that milk causes breast cancer, osteoporosis and a whole host of other diseases.

As the Badger Herald summed up Suder’s legal case (emphasis added),

It is these claims, Suder says, that are potentially in violation of Wisconsin’s false advertising laws, which prohibit any person or organization from making claims in the media that contain untrue or deceptive messages.

Now I’ll be the first to jump on the bandwagon that PETA’s claims are ridiculous. Does Bruce Friedrich really think anyone takes him seriously when he Friedrich says in a PETA press release (emphasis added),

Beer in moderation is good for you, while even one glass of milk supports animal abuse and harms your health.

What’s next for Friedrich? Claiming that milk is the gateway drug to red meat consumption? (How about a film called Diary Madness showing kids sitting around drinking milk and then dropping dead?)

But going after PETA with false advertising laws is a strategy that will inevitably backfire. Rather than making PETA look like idiots — which the organization already does a fine job of on its own — such a lawsuit will have the effect of making PETA look like a victim of an overzealous legislature and produce a flurry of news articles that will have the effect of giving PETA’s dietary claims a lot more serious coverage than they deserve.


State representative calls for legal action against PETA. John Buchel, The Badger Herald (Wisconsin), April 29, 2003.

PETA Takes "Breast Is Best" Billboard to Ottawa

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had difficulty finding a place for its Jesus-inspired breast milk billboard, so it has taken its show on the road to Ottawa, Canada.

The billboard features an image of Mary breast feeding Jesus with the text, “If it was good enough for Jesus . . . The breast is best.”

According to Bruce Friedrich,

People need to realize that if they are drinking dairy products they are supporting animal cruelty . . . With all of our campaigns, including this one, we are trying to focus on the downside of animal products. In this case that feeding cow’s milk is linked to all of the ailments that plague infants.

Is Friedrich really that stupid? Doesn’t he know that almost nobody gives infants cow’s milk because parents know their digestive systems aren’t developed enough for it? Has he missed the rows of powdered formula present in most supermarkets?

As Dawn Walker, executive director of the Canadian Institute of Health, told The Ottawa Citizen,

“But for the majority of kids, milk is one of the basic food groups, and to try to cast milk in the light of animal rights is misleading.”

For children over the age of one, she said, milk is a nutritious part of a daily diet. PETA has a history of creating ad campaigns that project half-truths and misconceptions about milk products just to further its political goal of animal rights, she added.

You don’t say.


Group’s anti-milk billboard gives wrong health message: expert: ‘We all know breast is best and cow’s milk is not for infants.’ Patti Edgar, The Ottawa Citizen, November 8, 2002.

PETA Features David Duke in Bizarre Billboard Ad

Most of the times People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is intentionally offensive to garner media attention. But sometimes it’s really hard to tell what (if anything) PETA is trying to accomplish with some of its more bizarre ads and stunts.

Such is the case with a billboard that PETA is running in Shreveport that features an image of David Duke — used without the knowledge or permission of the former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — that parodies the “Got Milk?” advertisements.

The ad shows Duke’s image with a white mustache. The copy on the ad reads, “Got (lactose) intolerance? The white stuff saint’ the right stuff.”

Yeah, that one left me scratching my head too. According to PETA’s Bruce Friedrich,

David Duke is the perfect milk-industry poster child since he’s identified by many as being intolerant. . . . It’s a public domain photograph, but no one in their right mind applauds David Duke and no one in their right mind should be drinking milk.

That’s even more logically confused than normal for Friedrich. That makes about as much sense as putting up a picture of accused-Pim Fortuyn assassin Volkert van Der Graaft and arguing that since van Der Graaft is a killer, so is a vegan diet.

But then again, no one ever accused Friedrich and PETA of trying to make sense.


Anti-milk ad features David Duke. Alan Sayre, Associated Press, November 11, 2002.