Officials Thursday accused several major dairies in the region of padding their profits by slightly underfilling milk and juice containers that were shipped to schools, institutions and supermarkets.
In a survey conducted as part of a larger national probe by the Federal Trade Commission, state officials tested 49 shipments from six dairies and found that containers in 29 of the shipments were underfilled, a 59 percent failure rate. The average failure rate of the 20 states in the FTC study was 40 percent.
Each container of milk or juice was underfilled a tiny amount, usually 1 percent to 6 percent. But because of the enormous volume of sales, the total amount is substantial, state officials said.
“Because the milk business is so competitive, some in the industry are attempting to boost profits by systematically short-filling milk and juice containers,” said Michael Duffy, the state’s director of consumer affairs.
Duffy said most of the problems occurred on sales to school systems and institutions, but he said the research indicated milk and juice containers at supermarkets were also underfilled.
Susan Ruland of the Milk Industry Foundation blamed the underfilling on differences in the density of different types of milk, shrinkage of blow-molded containers and out-dated quality-control techniques.
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