(Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

October 12, 1998

Mooove over, Bessie...

Consumers milked in plastic war

The Tattoo

We know your milk moustache is tres chic, but is
your bottle up to snuff?

As if it isn't enough to negotiate the
environmental ethics of paper-or-plastic, you
now have a choice about the plastic encasing
your moo juice.

There's the so-called "natural" plastic jug with
a supposedly environmentally friendly plastic
label offered by Garelick Farms, a "light block"
bottle that Hood claims saves vitamins, or the
old no-nonsense plastic jug used by Guida Dairy.

When tackling your grocery list, this may seem
like a trivial concern.

But to the dairies, it's cut throat competition.
slmultwidctlpar Last spring, Hood introduced a
bottle like no other. The company claims
extensive research showed that light can damage
some vitamins found in milk.

Up to 50 percent of some vitamins can be lost
after 24 hours of florescent light, according to
Hood researchers.

So, in an attempt to prevent the loss of
nutrients in milk, they created the "LightBlock"
bottle. Made of a pigmented white plastic, it
supposedly blocks out seven times more light
than the classic clear jug.

Despite the release of Hood's findings, most
milk bottlers are sticking with clear plastic.
Mike Guida, vice-president of Guida's Dairy in
New Britain, said Hood's claim about light
damaged milk is nothing but a "sales gimmick."

Guida said the "last time I climbed into my
refrigerator and closed the door, the light went

John Kellogg, vice president of Garelick Farms,
said the company looked into various bottling
techniques for the past two years.

Kellogg said their research showed "inconclusive
scientific evidence of a loss of beneficial
ingredients" from light exposure, swaying them
to opt for the traditional translucent bottle.

Garelick Farms says that their bottle is more
environmentally friendly than a pigmented

They use plastic that can be recycled easily and
efficiently in New England recycling centers.
They also created a new kind of labeling system.
They use recyclable plastic instead of paper and
adhesives, making it easier to break down.

Guida said his dairy considered changing the
bottle, but decided against it for several

Guida said that "the recycling factor is a
bigger problem than any loss in milk."

Another factor in the decision for Guida's to
remain using a clear bottle is the preference of
the consumer.

Guida said when glass was still in use, and the
company switched from a clear bottle to an amber
colored bottle. He said this caused
dissatisfaction among the customers because they
"could not see if there was anything in there,
or if the bottle had been tampered with."

In addition to that, he expressed concern that
people cannot see how much milk is left in the
bottle, making it difficult to be sure you have
enough for the next morning's breakfast.

As far as  Bristol is concerned, Garelick Farms
and Guida's Dairy are correct on the recycling
angle. According to Jonathan Bilmes, director of
the Bristol Resource Recovery Facility Operating
Committee, the regional trash plant prefers
uncolored plastic.

Before recycling, Bilmes said, the bottles are
sorted into groups of colored or clear.
The problem occurs for the people who process
the bottles. There is a higher value for the
"natural" plastic.

So, when Bristol residents recycle LightBlock
bottles, plastic processors get less money.

For the consumer, scientific evidence varies
depending on who you ask. 

So if marketing claims have swayed your choice
it's time to ask yourself: got milked?