Consumers Have the Last Word in Hormone Labels on Milk


In mid-December, we reported a startling new development in the dairy industry.  As of February 1, 2008 the state of Pennsylvania would ban labels on dairy products that claim to be rBGH, pesticide and antibiotic free. Such a ban would make it near impossible for consumers to distinguish between dairy products containing hormones and antibiotics, and those that do not.  However, it has been announced that Pennsylvania officials were swayed by consumer outcry to drop their plans

On Thursday, just two weeks before the ban was scheduled to take effect, the state's agriculture department issued new guidelines that allow dairies to specifically label milk which is from cows not treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST).  To avoid confusion, a label cannot read “No BST,” which is a naturally occurring hormone in dairy cows. 

rBGH is a synthetic hormone produced and marketed by the corporate giant Monsanto.  It is used to artificially stimulate milk production, to increase a cow’s daily output.  While the FDA has ruled that rBGH is safe, many health advocates do not agree.  In fact, the use of synthetic hormones on dairy cows is prohibited in Canada and the European Union.

The primary opposition to the ban was a coalition of approximately 65 organizations, including the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.  These groups claim that consumers have the right to know what is in their food, and it seems the Pennsylvania governor agrees.  Governor Edward Rendell released a statement on Thursday announcing that the public has a right to complete information about the production process of the milk they purchase. 

The Consumers Union reported that consumer demand has led to a dramatic decrease in the use of synthetic hormones, which has fallen from 22.3 percent of all dairy cows in 2002, to 17.2 percent in 2007.  They are continuing their plight to stop similar proposed bans in other states.  New Jersey, Washington State, Missouri and Ohio have been identified as potentials on this list.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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