Cease and Desist Order Sent Over 'Fake Milk' in Puerto Rico

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The head of the Office for the Regulation of Industrial Dairy (ORIL), Jorge Campos, issued a cease and desist order Thursday, 25 July 2019 to pull a beverage labelled as ‘evaporated milk’ from the Puerto Rican market.

The measure was a consequence of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Import Alert 99-39 issued Tuesday, 9 July 2019 which blacklisted a string of dairy products manufactured by Peruvian giant Gloria S.A. for not complying with proper preparation processes as described and regulated by the FDA for evaporated milk.

In the FDA alert, Gloria is the only company blacklisted for this sort of breach.

The only other mention of ‘evaporated milk’ corresponds to a 2009 FDA report, where they found lead in condensed milk cans from Latvia, Russia and Ukraine.

In response, the Peruvian company accused the FDA of ‘setting its own standards’ for the production of evaporated milk, and claims these are not in line with requirements established in the Codex Alimentarius — an international standard that condenses standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other internationally recognised recommendations related to food, its production and safety.

“We offer our consumers evaporated milk produced according to the Codex standards, which is applied in 180 countries around the world. The US has decided that Codex standards to make evaporated milk are not to be applied,” said Fernando Devoto, Gloria’s Corporate Legal Director.

However, Canada, Holland, Germany and Denmark are authorised to sell evaporated milk in the United States and have not reported any problems.

The Puerto Rican market was not the first to react.

The controversy with Peruvian milk began in 2017, when the Panamanian Food Safety Authority suspended the import and sales of Pura Vida evaporated milk after the country’s National Association of Livestock Producers denounced the product “is fake milk,” according to Panamanian media.

At the time, the Authority justified the suspension considering that the product could not be labelled as “dairy” or marketed as milk.

Pindonga and Cuchuflito

The quality of milk is a matter of crucial importance due to its presence at the breakfast table.

In a separate incident, the candidate for Argentina’s vice presidency — and former president — Cristina Fernández de Kirchner delivered a phrase that sought to bundle the country’s crisis in consumption, poverty, national pride, and quality of Argentine products.

On Friday, 19 July 2019, Kirchner, while presenting his book ‘Sincerely’ in Mar del Plata — for the umpteenth time — said: “During our office, supermarkets overflowed with high street brand merchandise. Now brands that nobody knows appear and proliferate, like ‘La Pindonga’ or ‘El Cuchuflito’. They even sell you products labelled ‘lactic product that contains milk’ as if they were milk. What is that? Is this capitalism? Capitalism was when Axel [Kiciloff, a member of her political platform] was Minister of Economy and people bought, spent and could afford to travel.”

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