Judy Barbe, MS, RD: ‘Regular’ milk is fine, too
Senior Director, Nutrition Affairs with Western Dairy Association
Dear Eartha: As a registered dietitian, I am delighted that you are encouraging readers to drink their milk. However, I must clear up some facts presented in the Dec. 2 about the benefits of organic milk.
Did you know that milk and dairy products are among the most stringently regulated foods in this country? In fact, all milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and processing plant. Any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately and does not get into the food supply.
The U.S. dairy industry conducts more than 3.3 million tests each year on all milk entering dairy plants to ensure that antibiotics are kept out of the milk supply. According to the most recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data, less than one tanker in 3,000 tests positive for any animal drug residues, including antibiotics. In those rare cases, any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately and does not get into the food supply.
Happy cows? I prefer healthy. Sometimes it’s necessary for farmers to treat cows with antibiotics when they are ill, just as humans sometimes need medication when they are sick. Cows that are treated with an antibiotic are milked separately from the healthy herd. All milk is tested to ensure that antibiotics are kept out of the milk supply.
The dairy case is filled with choices. But let’s be clear that strict government standards ensure that both regular and organic milk are wholesome, safe and nutritious. Both organic and regular dairy products contain the same combination of nutrients that makes dairy products an important part of a healthy diet, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Organic milk is one choice among many in the dairy case that can help people meet the government’s recommended three servings a day of milk and milk products. But there’s no scientific evidence concluding that organic dairy products are safer or healthier than regular dairy products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Dietetic Association affirm that conventionally produced food is equally safe and nutritious as organically produced food.
In a peer-reviewed study (published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association) comparing conventional milk, milk labeled “rbST-free” and organic milk, researchers found that the composition of the milk itself was essentially the same, despite the use of different production practices on the farm.
Dairy farmers work hard every day to bring you fresh, great tasting, wholesome milk products. Almost all dairies are family-owned, and as active members of their communities, farm families take pride in maintaining natural resources. Colorado’s dairy farmers and milk processors are committed to providing you and your family with wholesome milk and dairy products. This commitment starts on the farm with top-notch animal care and extends across the supply chain – from the milk tanker trucks to the processing plant to the grocery store – to ensure that the dairy foods you enjoy each day are as wholesome and pure as nature intended.
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