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PITTSBURGH -- Beginning this Saturday, Giant Eagle here will remove milk products from its fuelperks! gasoline discount program in Pennsylvania following a request from the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, which regulates the minimum price of milk.
Affected products include all varieties of milk including buttermilk, eggnog, and flavored, as well as sour cream, half-and-half, whipping cream and heavy cream. Yogurt, ice cream, and cheese purchases will continue to count towards the fuel discount.
Introduced in 2004, fuelperks! gives consumers a 10-cent-per-gallon discount off gasoline at its GetGo stations for every $50 spent at Giant Eagle's grocery and convenience stores.
"The Pennsylvania Milk Board believes that there are certain situations where the offering of fuelperks! on the sale of regulated milk products may place the price of regulated milk below state minimum pricing," said Dan Donovan, a Giant Eagle spokesman. "Giant Eagle has agreed to comply with the milk board's request to prevent this possibility from ever occurring."
The issue sparked intense controversy among consumers in the local Pittsburgh market, and was a prime subject on a drive-time radio talk show.
Douglas Eberly, general counsel for the milk board, ruled the Giant Eagle program violated a 1930s law that prohibits discounts for milk, a law long criticized by consumer advocates but hailed by the dairy industry.
This is not the first time Giant Eagle's fuelperks! program has come under fire. A year ago, the Petroleum Retailers & Auto Repair Association lost a bid to shut down the program. The state Attorney General's office then rejected contentions that fuelperks! violated the state's Unfair Sales Act.