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Food Trends: What's in our milk?

A big conversation piece is the concern for what is in our food.  Recently a topic of conversation was specifically about milk.  Surely, those of you with kids have also heard grumblings about the bovine growth hormone added to milk. Is this safe?  Is it responsible for early induced periods and maturing in females? What about weight?  Research on the questions above turned out to be not so impressive but some of my research provided information worth sharing.

The bovine growth hormone is a genetically engineered form of a natural hormone in cows and when injected is thought to increase milk production up to 15%.  This hormone, or bGH, was approved by the FDA in 1993 and in use throughout the US by 1994.  From the start, the Consumer’s Union warned against hazards of bGH.  It is banned in Canada and Europe as well as boycotted by 95% of the US dairy farmers. Also of note, bGH went to market without pre market safety tests.

Cows injected with bGH have increased udder infections, reproductive problems, digestive disorders, foot and leg ailments and also persistent sores.  Also, in 1998 a survey showed that cows injected with bGH were dead after 2 ½ years compared to a normal life expectancy of 15-20 years.  It is also suspected that bGH can lead to an increased production of IGF-1 (insulin growth hormone 1) that can lead to increased breast and colon cancer.

Although the research does not provide any specific data on human side effects from bGH, you have the right to decide what types of products you want to choose for yourself and your children.  Since there is no requirement for labeling for bGH it is difficult to figure out what milk has this hormone and what doesn’t.  You can always purchase organic milk and some milk will be labeled bGH free.  Kroger, Safeway, and Wal-Mart do not carry milk that contains bGH and in 1998 Starbucks banned products containing bGH.  Do you have concerns about bGH?  I want to hear about them.  Be well! 


Beth said…
Hi Amy! Great post! I'd love to hear your thoughts on non-dairy alternatives. I've been on an enriched rice milk for a few years, and while I love the taste and the assurance that there are no hormones, antibiotics, etc., I'm not thrilled about the added oils. Along the same lines, I use a non-dairy butter. I can't taste much of a difference in the butter or rice milk(not a fan of soy)and use them in cooking as well. I'm not vegan or even vegetarian, but am primarily trying to limit consumption of animal and dairy where possible. Is it really healthier to go non-dairy if you go organic?
Hi Beth! It depends on what your motivation is to go non dairy. If it is primarily to reduce additives such as hormones and antibiotics, you can insure you are doing this if you only eat Organic dairy products. Its important to know that cows milk and eggs provide your highest biological value proteins availble. The higher the biological value the better as this rates how efficiently your body can use the protein. Non dairy products often have to be fortified with calcium, B12 and other vitamins and minerals and have approximately 40 more calories per cup than skim cow milk.

It's hard to say which is particularly healthier. If you don't have an allergy to cow's milk I'd recommend organic cows milk. It is nutrient dense and even when substitures are fortified, its hard to mimic. You could even stick with the non dairy butter etc and go with the organic cow's milk. Hope this helps!
Nice article! Thank you for sharing this great post. I've learned a lot, considering my kids are fans of milk and dairy products

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