A law you didn’t know existed (dairy containers are for milk only) is no longer a law

Monitor staff
Published: 6/2/2018 11:59:03 PM

A lot of laws have been added to New Hampshire’s books this legislative session, but a few were removed – including one, dating back more than a century, which outlawed putting anything other than dairy products into milk containers.

Don’t expect this to rattle the state’s dairy industry, however.

“I can see no effect of that,” said Craig Bartlett, who runs the distribution side of Bartlett Farm Dairy in Concord.

He asked his brother, Scott, who owns the dairy side of the business with their father, Alan, and got a similar response: “He’d never heard anything about that.”

Indeed, the man responsible for removing the law says he can see no possible effect, either – which is the whole point.

“I’ve been spending my first term trying to get rid of unenforceable laws and regulations that don’t seem to make a lot of sense,” said Brandon Phinney, R-Rockingham, whose bill was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Chris Sununu. “I looked through the code and found some.”

No constituent had sought the change, Phinney said, and he doubts that any will react now that it’s in law.

Phinney’s bill undoes RSA 184:30-D, which was passed in 1907 and last tweaked in 1961. That old law said, in total: “No milk and milk product container shall be used as a receptacle for any substance other than dairy products.”

It appears to have been created as part of changes in food regulation at the start of the last century, since it came into being one year after the first federal consumer protection law, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The last time the New Hampshire Legislature tweaked this law, in 1961, was during the dairy industry’s switch from shipping milk in many separate 10-gallon cans to the use of bulk tanks and milk trucks.

In recent years, some New Hampshire dairies, including Bartlett Farm Dairy, have returned to glass milk bottles for direct sales to customers. If you’re one of those customers who doesn’t return the bottle – Craig Bartlett says they’re the bane of his existence – you can now refill it with the non-dairy product of your choice with no legal ramifications.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313, dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)
David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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