Are there hormones in milk?

Hormones occur naturally everywhere – even in plants. We all need hormones to trigger important functions in our bodies.

All milk, whether conventional or organic, has small amounts of natural hormones. These hormones are harmless – our bodies simply break them down and discard them.

What about synthetic hormones?

Dairy farmers have responded to requests for choices in the dairy aisle, so most dairy foods are made with milk that comes from dairy cows not supplemented with any artificial hormones. This decision is a result of market demand and not related to any health or safety issue. All milk is wholesome, safe and nutritious.

Historically, some dairy farmers treated cows with the FDA-approved rbST, a synthetic version of a common growth hormone. This hormone helps cows produce more milk, while reducing waste. This use of rbST was approved by the Food and Drug Administration after extensive review, and the safety of milk from rbST-supplemented cows has been reaffirmed since its release.

You might see dairy products marked “No rbST” in your grocery aisle, but this is a response to hype – it is not a health or safety issue. Rest assured that no matter which brand of milk you place in your cart, you are getting a safe and wholesome product.

No matter which cows milk you choose at the grocery store, rest assured that you are getting a safe, wholesome, delicious product for your family. All milk contains the same combination of nutrients that makes dairy foods an important part of a healthy diet.  

1. National Dairy Council. 2007 Mar. Scientific Status Report #19: Hormones and Milk. Accessed 2012 January.
2. USDHHS/NIH. 1991. NIH Technology Assessment Conference statement on bovine somatotropin. J Am Med Assoc. 265:1423-5.
3. Vicini, J, et al. 2008. Survey of retail milk composition as affected by label claims regarding farm-management practices. J Am Diet Assoc. 108:1198-1203.

By Susan Allen

Susan grew up on a farm in northwest Oklahoma and has over 30 years of experience working in agriculture. She has been part of the Dairy MAX team since 2007 and has worked with schools, health and wellness professionals and farmers. When she's not working, Susan is usually helping one of her kids with a 4-H project. Learn more about Susan

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