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Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska

Hormones in Milk: Should You Worry?

September 3, 2014Dairy, Food

By: South Carolina Volunteer Caci Nance

Today’s consumers are more interested than ever in what they eat and where their food comes from according to Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association’s research and knowledge group.

As a dairy farmer in South Carolina, I couldn’t be happier to hear this.

It means that consumers are asking more questions, learning about the food they consume, and choosing more wholesome and nutritious food for their family. As a mom, I strive to understand current nutrition information so I can nourish my family with the best possible food.

When shopping at the grocery store, it can sometimes be difficult to understand food labels, especially when it comes to milk. I hope to give you the tools and knowledge about milk labels so the next time you encounter a “Hormone-free” or “No Hormones Added” label on your milk container, you can make informed food decisions for your family.

Here are the facts:

There are hormones in milk. Yes, you read that correctly. Every gallon of milk you buy in the store, regardless of its label, has hormones in it. But before you run over to the fridge and dump a gallon of milk down the drain, realize that the presence of hormones in milk is not a bad thing. Here’s why:

  • Milk has hormones because it is a product of nature. Hormones are naturally present in all milk, whether it comes from a cow, a goat, or even a human.
  • Hormones are just proteins, and most–up to 90 percent of them, in fact –are destroyed through the process of pasteurization. The small amount of protein that may be left after pasteurization gets broken down through digestion in your stomach, just like protein in other foods.
  • There are hormones in almost all of the food we eat. Lettuce has hormones, for instance, and cabbage actually has a very high level of hormones.
  • Hormones are never added to milk. Most dairy farmers do not give their cows a supplemental hormone, called rBST, to increase milk production. The Midwest Dairy Association reports that only 30 percent of U.S. dairy farmers choose to use rbST with their herds, accounting for 20 to 25 percent of cows. Notably, rBST is not added to the milk itself, but rather is administered to some cows in some herds. Repeated studies by the FDA have found rBST to be a safe and effective way to increase milk production and ensure a plentiful milk supply.
  • Farmers are consumers, too. We would never add something harmful to the food supply that is unsafe or dangerous because we eat the same foods that other consumers do.

So there you have it, facts straight from a dairy farmer. Milk continues to be one of the safest, highest-quality foods on the market today because of the strict food-safety controls and hardworking, passionate dairy farmers who strive to produce the highest-quality product possible. I encourage you to reach out to farmers in your area and find out more about your food.

Original post from CommonGround.