A group in the US is trying to take Kerrygold off the black market

The state of Wisconsin enforces a strict butte grading law

A group in the US is trying to take Kerrygold off the black market

Image: Jim Mone/AP/Press Association Images

A butter grading law in the United States has meant Irish butter Kerrygold has been taken off the shelves.

Wisconsin is the only American state to enforce the law, forcing people to turn to the black market.

On the books since 1953, the law is strict: it requires butters to be rated on various measures — including flavour, body and colour — by the federal government or people licensed as butter and cheese graders with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Wisconsin’s grading scale dictates that the highest-graded butter must “possess a fine and highly pleasing butter flavour.”

Graders might describe a butter as “crumbly,” ”gummy” or “sticky,” and its colour as “mottled,” ”streaked” or “speckled.”

Anybody convicted of selling unlabeled or ungraded butter is subject to a fine between $100 and $1,000 and six months in jail.

As Kerrygold is made and manufactured in Ireland, it doesn’t meet Wisconsin’s stringent requirements.

However, foodies in the state are now challenging the law in order to make Kerrygold more easily accessible to people.

The plaintiffs said they have to travel over state lines to purchase Kerrygold because the company doesn't subject its product to the state's evaluation for taste, colour and texture, as determined by the department.

Jake Curtis is the Associate Counsel for The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, and is acting on behalf of the plaintiffs in the case. The conservative legal group said the grading process is subjective and doesn’t protect consumers - the real issue, the group argues, is personal freedom.

Curtis acknowledged it’s a light-hearted case, but told Moncrieff that "economic liberty is a civil right.”


A spokesperson for Kerrygold said in a statement that they are working with authorities to make the butter available in the state.

"Under Wisconsin legislation, retail butter for sale in Wisconsin must bear either a Wisconsin or federal grade mark. This effectively excludes Kerrygold butter being sold in Wisconsin because Kerrygold butter is graded, produced and packaged in Ireland.

"We are currently working with the Wisconsin authorities on a solution which will enable consumers throughout the state enjoy the great taste of Kerrygold butter."

You can listen to Jake Curtis' interview on Moncrieff in full below.