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Dairy Facts 2016



IDFA Position on Bovine Somatotropin (bST or bGH)

In response to consumer requests for more choice in the dairy aisle, many dairy processors are offering products made with milk from cows not treated with rbST, and they make that clear with production claims on their product labels. The claims simply provide information that consumers want; they do not reflect any health or safety issues.

All cows have naturally occurring bST, a protein hormone that stimulates milk production, in their systems. The protein rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) is a synthetically developed version of bST that is used by some farmers to supplement a cow's existing bST. Most cows given rbST through a carefully managed program will increase their milk production.

The use of rbST was approved as safe by the Food and Drug Administration in 1993. The FDA found that there is no significant difference between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST treated cows. Milk from rbST-supplemented cows has been concluded to be safe by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health, the American Diabetic Association and regulatory agencies in 50 countries.

Dairy processors across the nation should follow the uniform labeling guidance regarding rbST, which was issued by the FDA in 1994. This guidance assures consumers that the dairy product claims are truthful and not misleading. IDFA supports the constitutional right of dairy processors to make truthful and not misleading claims on their labels.

Highlights about rbST

  • Many milk companies have responded to consumer requests for choice in the dairy aisle, including dairy products from cows not treated with synthetic hormones. This is not related to any health or safety issue.
  • Dairy companies use labels that follow FDA guidance to assure consumers that their dairy product claims are truthful and not misleading. Under the federal guidelines, processors nationwide understand what can and cannot be placed on a label regarding the use of synthetic hormones. Because these are national guidelines, dairy companies can market products locally, regionally and nationally.
  • Studies have concluded that milk from animals treated with rbST is not significantly different than the wholesome product that we have enjoyed for generations. This has been affirmed and reaffirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among many other leading health organizations.
  • All milk naturally contains minute amounts of hormones, and science shows that there is no significant difference in hormone levels between organic and regular milk.
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